Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hello new world

I was going to wax lyrical about the importance of yesterday’s results, because it all (my feelings) seemed oh so important and meaningful and earnest at 9am yesterday morning, when I hadn’t had any kip and was, possibly more importantly, still drunk - (red wine + Cava + no sleep makes for a very uncomfortable 4 hour train journey home, especially when you incorporate London underground into that).

So, now, a little calmer and rested and rational, I don’t actually believe that we are in a whole new world. I don’t know a lot about Obama’s policies, I know more about what he doesn’t stand for (Palin), which to me is the important thing. I am overjoyed that for the next 4 years we’ve got a (partial?) end to the traditional WASP in power. That’s amazing. I don’t think this makes America any less racist, but my god I’m so happy that enough American people aren’t racist enough to *not* vote for Obama.*

I think that the election of a black guy to the American Presidency has enormous value as a symbol – as the end of the traditional white old rich guy running things. That is *so* important. And without meaning to denigrate that achievement, or to appropriate it for my own means, (because I do realise how important the election, in and of itself, of a person of colour, is to other people of colour), it also gives me hope that anyone from any given minority, or a woman (52% of the population does not a minority make), could also be elected, in the future, and that we could finally get our voices heard. And that’s really damn cool, for everybody.**

I am a massive believer in role models, of the power of seeing someone like you, out there, represented, speaking, out loud, in the public eye, or in everyday life. Without role models, without visible representation, we internalise feelings of areas of life being cut off from us, unattainable. Now we’ve got an incredibly visible black guy in the highest position of power in America. Hooray!

I kind of feel like in a sci fi future, where to show how progressive things are and how good, just and equal society is they have a black family in the White House (and usually, no other people of colour, anywhere).

Of course, I know this doesn’t mean an instant end to shit and bigotry happening. Just cos one black guy got in doesn’t mean it will happen again. Thatcher got to be the UK Prime Minister in the 80s, funny how women are still massively under represented in Parliament. Just cos one person has broken through doesn’t mean that others can suddenly move freely. It also doesn’t mean he’s going to eradicate racism, or even come up with all the right answers. Especially as ‘right’ is somewhat subjective.

I’m waiting for a backlash of people claiming he isn’t really black so it doesn’t count. Or people shooting him. They’d better make sure the security is really damn good.

I’m loving the fact that Kenya have declared Thursday a national holiday. My head is in my hands over Russia’s decision to situate more missiles right on their borders, and that Medvedev wants to extend his term from 4 years to 6 years. Christ almighty Russia, I love you, but you’re insane.

*Was that proper English? I doubt it.
**If I’m being an arse here, then tell me. I swear I’m not trying to take away from his achievement.

8 comments:

Devin said...

So well written!

I'm gonna miss your blogs but I'll read them all when I get back!

James Meeley said...

I don’t know a lot about Obama’s policies, I know more about what he doesn’t stand for (Palin), which to me is the important thing.

And that kind of thinking is what worries ME most about the next four years. It not only allows for ignorance to rule the day, but misses the whole point of what the voting process is supposed to be about.

It usually isn't the demon you can SEE that you should fear the most. I hope I'm wrong here, but as experience has taught me, I'm usually not.

So, needless to say, I am FAR from "overjoyed" at this elections outcome.

Lord Runolfr said...

I have to admit that I'm not nearly as enthused about the election results as you. Don't get me wrong; I voted for Obama (not that my vote made much difference in the state of Tennessee, which voted something like 60% in favor of McCain). On the other hand, I once again felt like I was voting for the lesser of two evils.

Is it really too much to ask to have a candidate who is conservative on financial matters and liberal/progressive on social issues? In the US, apparently so.

Saranga said...

James and Lord R:
You are both coming from an entirely different perspective from me - I am in the UK, am British and cannot vote.
I would fully expect to USA voters to find out about the candidate's policies before they vote for them, however that is not so relevant to me.

Re the lesser of two evils, unfortunately I think that is somewhat of an inevitable-ity when you have a two party system. To truly choose someone you agree with you need more of a choice, a spectrum if you will.

The UK has a multi party system, (somewhat dependent on where you live) which ensures that at least more voices are elected and heard in Parliament, even if the government is only ever going to be (chiefly) formed from Labour or the Tories. As Labour has moved to the right there is less choice for us.

And going back to the original topic, I still firmly believe that Obama will be better for the world, both on social issues and financial issues - I believe high taxes area good thing. I am very pleased that Obama supports civil partnerships (not so pleased he doesn't support gay marriage) and I am a little concerned about how he plans to pull troops out of Iraq w/o screwing the Iraquis over even further.

James Meeley said...

I would fully expect to USA voters to find out about the candidate's policies before they vote for them, however that is not so relevant to me.

I agree, sadly though, I've seen many instances of US people spouting the same line you said. So, my comment was more a statement on that mentality over here, not against you per say. Sorry if I didn't make that clear enough.

I mean, when you see black voters here being interviewed by news outlets and they say they are voting for Obama "because he's black," not because they agree with his views (whatever they may be), think he's the best candidate, or has the best plans for our country, tell me you wouldn't be fearful about the next four years, if you lived here.

Although, it does prove you right about one thing: Racism is surely still a factor in this country, because voiting for Obama JUST because he's black, is just as racist as NOT VOTING for him because he is.

I believe high taxes area good thing.

I don't. I think it better to let the people and business have their money, as the markets are much more capable of addressing issues that arise in them more so that the government ever will be. I am a total supporter of free markets with minimal (or no) governmental interference.

I still firmly believe that Obama will be better for the world

Personally, and this will sound very harsh, "Fuck the world." I want who will be best for MY nation, because we have plenty of problems of our own right here. I'm personally sick of everyone look to the US as the one to fix problems globally.

I was one of the few who knew going into Iraq, was going to end up with us doing the same thing we did in post-WWII Germany, where the US spent a decade there helping the people rebuild the country and getting it socially and economically viable once more (at least on the West side). Overthrowing a dictator (like Saddam or Hitler) is the easy (and dare I say "fun") part of things. It's what comes after that is truly messy. Everyone here thought once we took out Saddam, things would be quickly resolved over in Iraq. I was one of the few, from knowing my world history, who knew better. That's why I'm also one of the few who is the least pissed off about us still being there. I knew going in this is what it would be like, so I'm not dismayed or shocked by the turnout.

I am, however, sick of the world "thumbing their nose" at my country, yet, when the chips are down for them, come over with their hands out looking for the US to help them solve their problems or give them aid. That pisses me off way more than Iraq, the economy, or any other issues my country is currently facing. So fuck what the world wants. It's time for America to look out for her own six, because no one else in the world sure is. Who does the "doctor to the world" go to when they get sick? So, fuck what the world wants from the US. Really.

And I remain completely unconvinced Obama is the "Great Half-White Hope" for my country... or the world. I guess we'll find out soon enough just how wrong or right I am. I pray I'm the former. But, as I said, I'm not usually too far wrong on these things.

Saranga said...

"voting for Obama JUST because he's black, is just as racist as NOT VOTING for him because he is."

No it isn't. What (I presume) you're talking about is identity politics.
Choosing to support someone based on them 'being like you' - be that by sharing a similar class background, having the same political outlook, or having shared and similar life experiences, (for instance, due to skin colour, sexuality or gender) - because you think that will best represent your interests in government is not racist.

Your interests can be racist, but identity politics is not in and of itself racist.

People vote for those candidates who they think will best represent them all the time, which means in theory you get a govt by the people, for the people etc. Except that that hasn't been the case because historically there haven't been any Presidential candidates other than white men. So identity politics didn't come into it because there were no other options.

Now there is an option and black people choosing to vote for a black person because they believe that candidate will best represent their interests over the next few years, (especially when compared with the McCain/Palin ticket), are criticised and called racist.

That reeks of white privilege and shows a lack of understanding of the power dynamics within society.

James Meeley said...

Now there is an option and black people choosing to vote for a black person because they believe that candidate will best represent their interests over the next few years, (especially when compared with the McCain/Palin ticket), are criticised and called racist.

It is racist, if the ONLY reason they voted for him is because he's black. His race was the factor in thier choice. Not his policies, beliefs, plans, ect.

It is no different from a white person (or a person other than a black one) saying they WON'T vote for Obama because he's black. His race was the factor of the choice. Nothing else. That, my friend, is racism.

No it isn't. What (I presume) you're talking about is identity politics.

Then I guess every white (or non-black) person, who didn't vote Obama, with the fact he's black being the sole reason for that, isn't racist either. It's just "identity polotics." He didn't look like them, so they didn't vote for him. So, I guess racism doesn't exist in America anymore, huh?

That reeks of white privilege and shows a lack of understanding of the power dynamics within society.

No, it "reeks" of understanding the world in which you live. It's just like the O.J. Simpson trial. After the verdict, some of the jurors have been stated as saying they found him not guilty as "comeuppence" for the Rodney King tiral. So, they let someone who might be a killer free, as revenge for another situation that had nothing to do with the one at hand.

"Identity politics" are racist, just as "gender politics" are sexist, no matter what you want to say or believe. If a person's race is the key factor in how you vote, that's racist. And it completely misses the point of what the process is supposed to be about.

People who vote for something out of such ignorance, always leads to trouble. After all, Hitler was elected to office, too, because people feared Communism. Never mind what they voted in turned out to be just as bad, if not worse. They let their ignorance of what Hitler was about and their fear of Communism, make thier choice for them. I mean, your original post's line could easily read like this:

"I don't know a lot about Hitler's policies, I know more about what he doesn't stand for (Communism), which to me is the important thing."

Suddenly, what you said takes on a whole new light, doesn't it? Black voters who let their ignorance of what Obama stands for, as well as their anger/hostility towards white people (because, believe me, it's in there), make their voting choice for them, have done the greatest diservice one could ever do to one's country.

And you can try spliting hairs, saying "identity politics" doesn't equal racism, or say I'm talking through "white privilege," or whatever else you want. Doesn't change the fact voting ignorance like that, has lead to many tradegies throughout history. And it doesn't change the fact that the issue of race isn't just the "white man's burden" anymore.

I am so not looking forward to the next four years... but then, I've never been one who was highly supportive of someone who says they want to rewrite the Declaration of Independence. I'm funny that way.

Hepburn said...

Oh Mr.James Meeley you can say a big f u to the world if you wish, but 90% of the time your country inserts its self into the business and policies of other countries, simply to protect and to promote your countries self interests. Not much your country does is purely altruistic in nature.
I speak from a position of observation as a Canadian who watches the US and the world, and as your country's neighbour.
Your country it is a great country but its not the only great one in the world,and you cannot function alone.