… shouted a black man in a car driving past me on Times Square last night. “And a white man”, I said out loud to my friend. She laughed. “He’s like that Michael Jackson song.” She laughed some more.
We had come from Rockefeller center a bit in shock at the speed of Obama’ victory. Quite in keeping with the “shock and awe” of a political campaign on a scale never before seen in American history.
As we walked along the streets of New York everyone seemed jubilant. Everyone … not just black people. And I thought how strange that I don’t think of Barack as a black man, but as a transformational charismatic leader. I think for many people this is indeed the case. The fact that he is black was just icing on the cake; a chance to really give a gigantic middle finger to an establishment that is perceived as corrupt and rotting from the inside out.
And I wonder … do we owe George W. Bush a debt of gratitude for this truly historic occasion? In a strange way I would say yes. Perhaps through lack of accountability, secrecy, arrogance, go-it-aloneness/my way or the highway, closed mindedness, and fear, the resulting financial meltdown, international disdain, and assault on the very freedom that defines America, George W. created fertile ground for a leader like Barack Hussein Obama to emerge.
George W. created a listening that was not there before. A listening among the American people that allowed them to take a leap across a chasm of broken dreams, a leap that allowed their country to reclaim or perhaps earn its place as leader of the free word. A leap that demonstrated America’s acknowledgment of the dire global situation it helped create, and of it’s commitment to leading the world out of it. America elected a man that has the listening of the world as their leader.
I think most Americans have no idea of what this election means to the world. Even before the news verified this to be he case, most internationals knew that Barack’s victory would be celebrated in their home countries. All over Europe, Africa and Latin America champagne corks popped and there was much drinking and dancing. With absolutely no research data to back me up I speculate that no other election in the history of elections was greeted with as much rejoicing as the election of Barack Obama on Nov 4th, 2008. Read the news reports over the next few days and you’ll see this verified. In my home country of Trinidad people were shouting for joy and I’m sure we’ll have several songs written about Barack Obama and America for the Carnival season in 2009.
In a way, I feel a little afraid for Barack. The level of expectation is way high. On the other hand, he’s inheriting such a mess that there is no place to go, but up. Overall though, I’m very excited. I’m excited about a President that will usher in an era of service, not shopping, a President that will usher in an era of co-operation among people and countries that now have a demonstration of magic, that all things are possible, even peace in the Middle East … hell, a black man was elected President of the United States of America.