So, why Obama..
There are lots of reasons...call me pseudo-liberal, call me naive, call me an idealist...but today I heard a disappointed and dejected American woman say "Upon Obama's victory, I learnt not to be cynical and depressed." I went to Columbia University in NYC to listen to an election analysis by the common people of New York, and by some of the highly respected teachers at the University, and by contributers to papers like "The Nation" and "The New Yorker".
A white american woman sat there, beaming from ear to ear. For those of you interested in politics, this would be of interest to you. For those apathetic to it, I think you will still enjoy hearing what she had to say...
She started her talk by saying "Back in April, I'd placed a bet on McCain, and each time I was challenged, I only bet higher...I didn't have faith in the american people, and I believed that Republicans are geniuses of the manipulation of stupidity." She said she feared that not enough white people would vote for Barack Obama.
"But enough white people DID vote for Obama," she said. She continued by saying that Obama was a wonderful politician and communicated being a good person. He gave her faith that he had the ability to bridge the gaps between the people he agreed with, and those who didn't agree with him.
About the expectations the world had from him, she said "We've been a rogue-elephant country for the last 8 years...I don't expect the next 4 years to be as flawless as the campaign was. I expect him to just be a good enough president. I expect that he will undo or repair the bad things that Bush did. No one can know what's going to happen in the future. But WE have a duty to steer things a certain way too. We have a duty to make ourselves be heard to him. It's not just him...if we disagree with something, we have to make a big fuss about it. "
Other panelists spoke of the republicans like Colin Powell standing up for Obama being unprecedented, spoke of how his grace and poise capture the attention of everyone and put everyone at ease. "I'm surprised that I lived to see the day a brown skinned man becomes the president of our country," said Hendrick Hertzberg of the New Yorker, "We are very lucky to have stumbled into a presidency of the highest calibre we've ever had."
He's right. Obama is a Harvard Law Graduate. He learnt the law, as opposed to George Bush who only broke the law.
There are many reasons why I think Obama becoming the 44th president of the United States of America is a historical moment.
First, he is an inspirational figure to many. He's intelligent, he writes beautifully, intelligently and compassionately, he listens to what people have to say, he communicates well, and his oratory skills are remarkable (as opposed to their last president who said things like "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we" and "I promise you that I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn't here" and "I am here to make an annoucement that this thursday, tickets and airplane counters will fly out of Ronald Reagen Airport").
Secondly, he has changed the face of racial america. It's not that he is the first african-american president of America. It's the fact that he got the votes of a large percentage of the "race conscious" population of America. In other words, he forced the average mellow 'racist' to look beyond racial lines. He transcended race.
And yes, there will be 'black pride' in America. But why not. He earned the respect of the white people, despite the still existing racial undertones in the country. He had to watch every move of his to appear to be the perfect black man. Had he had Palin's family history, things wouldn't have gone down too well for him. (It was said that if Obama had a pregnant teenage daughter, it wouldn't have been met with the same understanding as Palin's situation was given. "That's not how they react to a black teenage mother", she said, "We don't say - Oh, its understandable. We say - You're the reason our country's going to the dogs!") Moreover, Obama becoming president has broadened the chances of other black presidents or a woman president, because we thought this was unthinkable and its happened!
His name - Barack Hussein Obama is also important. This sort of name, "which was a political liability will now become a diplomatic asset". He's not a 'secret muslim' as some Americans think, but even if he was, they elected him despite that. And that is also something!
Moreover, these elections were historic for America also because the youth proved to not be apathetic, the proved that their vote counts.
I know that many of us in India have been made wary of this man by certain remarks he made about Kashmir and Pakistan. For those still in doubt, you should read this - "Militants, not India, are the biggest threat to Pakistan" Either way, only time will tell how he shapes Indo-US relations, but everything about him points to the fact that he will listen, and won't unilaterally make a hasty decision. As Indians, we shouldn't fall into the trap of looking things from a narrow-minded perspective. EVEN if we don't like his policies about India and Pakistan, we can't withdraw support on that sole cause. That's being really selfish. This is the reason why Modi gets into power again and again. Because people are not looking at the greater picture, and are looking only at their own immediate gain (or what they perceive to be their immediate gain). We need to look at the greater picture here too. Obama is better for the world and better for America than anyone else in power in that country.
In the end, I have to say, being in the midst of all the apprehension, all the tension, the anticipation, the excitement, I see a new energy in America since yesterday. A happier and more hopeful America. For the first time, I've seen America as a victim. A victim of its own state, that is finally liberated from a reputation it has worn like a noose around its neck. A reputation of being a "rogue-elephant". Many of them hated themselves for 8 years, felt responsible for war crimes and felt disgusted and hapless and powerless. And today, I saw the hope of a new beginning in every American's eye that I met, on the streets of Manhattan.