05 November 2008

On Obama's Victory

In the aftermath of Obama's victory last night, I have the following things to say: the first being-OUTSTANDING!!!!

This is a victory that was long in coming, and not just for Obama's supporters, Democrats, and their sympathisers, but for the vast majority of the American people, who are lower-middle-class, working-class and poor, and who have generally been either ignored, used as pawns, or lied to in this country for much of its history.

That said, one thing to remember about Obama, and that he is a centre-Left Democrat, not a socialist, not a communist, and most definitely not an anarchist.

This means that one would be best advised not to expect huge changes in US domestic and foreign policies right off the bat, and that, depending on how and where one stands on any number of given issues, that there will be disappointments, and even times where one may stand up and scream at the top of one's lungs, "What the Fuck are you thinking???!!!" about some of them.

The New Millennium and the New Jerusalem are not here, and we'll not be led into them by Obama, nor anyone else.

But, especially after the last twenty-eight years of the Reagan Revolution and Republican dominance of American political ideology and politics, especially since the Congressional elections of 1994 and the Presidential election of 2000, there is now, both in the White House and on Capitol Hill, a breed of folks who are willing and, I hope, able to take on the many important issues that seriously need addressing in this country that have gotten short shrift for so long.

Many of these problems are of long-standing and will NOT be solved within the first three or six months of the Obama Administration, nor even within the confines of a first Obama Administration.

There will be no magic-wand waving, automatic problem-solving solutions served up, like a short-order cook serving up a plate of liver and onions to go, by the new Administration, and one is best advised to take that into account from the get-go.

All that said, the Obama victory represents to me, not just the expulsion of the Republicans from the White House, and the further decrease of their power in the House and Senate, but a victory over some of the worst and nastiest parts of our collective psychology.

For all the race- and religion-baiting that went on in the campaign, Obama's victory proved that those tactics work less and less well in many parts of the US.

Screaming "Nigger!!!" at the top of one's lungs, however directly or indirectly, and bashing people for being "socialists", "communists", etc, don't quite have the Pavlovian-reflex, "Can't let THAT happen!!!" response from much of the American voting public that they used to get, and thank God for that.

Much of the appeal of the Reagan Revolution, as well as the Goldwater and George Wallace campaigns before it, were rooted in a nostalgia for a seemingly simpler time in American history, with MGM-esque ideals of small, mainly-, if not all-white, towns, where Just Plain Folks worked hard, went to church on Sunday, obeyed all the laws and rules, and everyone knew their place and got along.

That picture of 19th and early 20th Century America was, at best, a half-truth, and, at worst, a damned lie told, by the folks at MGM and other Hollywood studios, to sell movie tickets, and by politicians and pundits to advance their agendas.

We know what those agendas are, because so much of what was in them has been made into reality over these 27 years past.

Either way, the American people, at least a goodly percentage of them, bought into this, in one way or another, and, as a result, this country is in quite a mess at home and abroad.

The time for nostalgia for a time and place that never really existed is long over.

There is the present, and the future, and, depending on the ideas, words and actions that the Obama Administration, Congress, the various state and local governments, business and other institutions, and we so-called ordinary Americans decide to undertake, we can, by mid-century, either have a soundly functioning, though imperfect, nation that continues to improve, a badly functioning one that barely works in any area of endeavour at all, or, worst of all, a Balkanised collection of successor states born of failures of ideas, policies and actions at every level, including and especially the popular level.

These are the choices that we and our posterity face that stand out most strongly to me in the years and decades ahead.

The changes that I believe are necessary to have the US better live up to the ideals and promises made by our Founding Fathers and their successors, right down to the present day, must in one form or another be implemented, and they probably won't be implemented in either a first, or, if it should come to pass, a second Obama Administration.

Many of them, I hope, will at least get their starts during that time, and will be further improved upon and deepened over the course of time.

But, only if our governing classes, business classes, media classes, and especially we, the American people, are willing and able to do that.

If either none, or too few, of any of us are, we will find ourselves far worse off than we are now down the road, and we will have no-one, and I repeat NO-ONE, but ourselves to blame for that situation.

John McCain, however bitter and at times nasty, he and his campaign could get during the election campaign, gave, in my view, a lovely and gracious concession speech last night.

For that, if nothing else, he has my respect.

I would hope that some of his supporters might feel the same way and act in a likewise manner.
However, I don't expect many of them to do so.

What I do expect out of them is to at least disagree with the Obama Administration and its supporters in a relatively civilised manner, without resorting to racial or religious bigotry.

If they cannot do that, they are worthy of neither attention nor respect whatsoever.

No one political party, faction, racial, ethnic, religious or economic group is entitled to for-ever hang onto power in the US Constitution, as far as I know, and that includes Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, or any other party presently active in the US political system.

Oh, there are those that have tried, but, in the end, have failed to do that

In time, the Democrats will eventually lose power, as happens in any reasonably functioning representative democratic system of government, and be succeeded by either the Republicans or one of the many minor parties.

But, in the meantime, they are in power, and it's my sincerest hope that they will use it wisely and well.

If not, they will deserve to lose power, as have the Republicans.

To my fellow Democrats, and to my colleagues and comrades on the greater American Left, we now have a chance to make this country, and to help make this planet, safer, saner, better places than when we found them.

Let's not blow it.

To the Republicans and other conservatives, I say this; the best conservatives, it seems to me, wish to keep the very best aspects of their societies and cultures going. That can best be done by recognising that the larger the number of people in their culture who can either only barely earn a living or not earn a living at all, the more violent, crime-and-vice-ridden, and ultimately unstable it will be, especially over the long-term.

They don't, as Thomas Paine remarked about Edmund Burke's attitude towards the French monarchy overthrown by the French Revolution, "pity the plumage but forget about the dying bird."

They recognise that the more economically and socially secure their people, and not just the upper classes and their supporters, are, the more stable and happier their society will be.

Those who fail to recognise that fact, and insist that solutions involving more police, more prisons, and/or the exclusive use of military force in foreign and domestic affairs, are the ONLY solutions worth considering, are setting themselves and their posterity up for a very hard fall indeed.

There is much work to be done, and it is time to get to it.

Be seeing you.

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