Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Another day in America

Before we all get too excited, the Obama victory today is not going to change the world configuration. Of course, it will be time for celebration for all centre/centre-left types around the world, just as whenever 'one-of-us' is elected anywhere on the planet we must raise a glass.

However, what will really change?

America's key foreign policy positions, on Israel, the Middle East etc. will not change any time soon. The US will still dash Israel billions of dollars for military hardware each year to maintain the uneasy status quo - and not question its nuclear stockpile. Obama has shown no particular enthusiasm for Africa or African trade - I doubt if the US government will now pause to question the massive agricultural subsidy to American farmers which would give the continent a much-needed boost. America's desperate economic situation will not be remedied. Small town America is dying fast, with no jobs, no credit, no hope and now, no Starbucks. What can anyone do about this? Neither candidate has said anything particularly meaningful about how to create American jobs, beyond vague blocking gestures against outsourcing.

A more open, dialogic approach to international relations will certainly win back some favour for America, whose standing in the world could not be lower right now. Certainly, it should spell positive news for the UK and enable a more engaging relationship with Europe. Gordon Brown (and his successor) would face less of a choice between 'either Europe or America'.

A more intelligent form of politics will be welcome: instead of the oppositional platitudes of the 'war on terror' and the 'axis of evil' the numbskull Dubya bleated about endlessly. Lord knows that a Bobby Kennedy style of articulate debate is needed in dumbsville US politics and even dumberville American media (with its too-few notable exceptions).

A black man as President of the US is the most significant aspect beyond American shores, symbolically disrupting the idea of a global racial ceiling, just as Lewis Hamilton's win has disrupted the white world of Formula 1. At last, Fela's dream of a 'Black President' has been achieved. However, even in this case, the symbolic ripple-effect might be overstated - did feminist critique of patriarchy receive a boost when Thatcher was elected Prime Minister all those years ago? Its absurd to talk of Obama ushering in a post-racial future for America, when the US is utterly beset by the racial divide from top to bottom. Or, is the reality depicted in The Wire an illusion?

Obama's victory over the clueless and outmoded Republicans will be sweet. But lets not get ahead of ourselves and think that a new world begins from tomorrow..


Fred 1:40 pm  

Glad to see nothing's changed here, J! :-)

Don't count your chickens.

Jeremy 1:58 pm  

Fred. where have you been all my life?

Sandrine 2:51 pm  

Hi Jeremy,
I can tell you that if Obama wins, all the people I know will be rejoicing tomorrow!I can't wait,it's such an exciting day!
Take care.

Anonymous,  3:07 pm  

Has there ever been a black president in any "white" country?
I can't imagine any European country has had one. So it could be more ground breaking in a world context.

It seems that the growing mixed race generations are taking over, Obama, Hamilton. The other day the English football team had Cole, Brown, James, Ferdinand, Walcott, Jenas. Tsonga is rising up in the tennis, let's not forget Tiger Woods. Give it another 20 years and we will realise that racial mixing creates better human beings!

Anonymous,  4:15 pm  

No starbucks?! ohmigod what is the world coming to?

Anonymous,  5:46 pm  

Give us a little credit Jeremy!
I don't think that any one believes that an Obama presidency will substatially change America's foreign policy.
What Obama represents is far more intangible than that, but no less valuable. Especially to people of colour in the US and else where..... but you couldn't possibly know what people of colour feel now could you?

Anonymous,  7:21 pm  

Relax J. Noone knows tomorrow. Let's take it one day at a time........

Anonymous,  7:24 pm  

obama has stated many policies to help job creation in the states, most notably making green jobs that arent exportable, at least in the short term (such as hybrid card)and investing in green energy.

@anon 3:07pm. missing doesnt create anything greater than so called "pure bred" humans create. obama's success speaks to something larger than racial make up.

Olu,  11:52 pm  

Well said J !

An Obama victory ? sure, a psychic boost to people of color and comonsense the world over, a welcome relief from numskull theocracy !

(As a Christan, that Bush/MCcain/Palin juggernaut completely confounds me...what a shame !) and evangelicals wonder why they're considered a circus side show !

oh well. Obama jr is a politician at the end of the day. Lets hope Africa doesn't get too much of a raw deal.
Congrats to Kenya !

Fred 2:46 am  

Busy! Voting, for one.

It's not looking too good for McCain right now, but time will tell, aye, what?

Hope you're well, J. And the missus.

Uzo,  7:46 am  


And we can and will the challenges ahead.

Abuja 1:59 pm  

What a day!

At work I interviewed and appointedone of the brightest, sparkiest people I've seen for ages. She had that often missing ingredient too... pure passion for the job.

Then Obama crossed the finish line. Sure, he's not going to be a cross between a Saint, Robert/ John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King and people are going to fell let down when he isn't all those things.

But just as McCain represented the tired old politics of an age gone by there is every promise that Obama can engage with the world as it is. Wish him well.

Anonymous,  6:23 pm  

whoa, show a bit of solidarity J. The rest of the world is howling with delight and elation and you can't even allow us to enjoy that small. Lighten up and stop being so pessimistic!

Naapali 7:19 pm  

We know the sun still rises in the East and sets in the West. We know the world is still mired in the greatest financial mess since the great depression, we know people are still dying in Ajegunle, Gaza, Baghdad.

Obama's victory does not change that nor is it diminished by those facts. I am surprised and disappointed at the cynicism expressed in this post. McCain and Palin campaigned hard to urge people to vote based on their fears and on America's long shameful history. Americans have rejected this in a fashion so resounding as to make it clear that this America is not the one McCain grew up in or Palin lives in.

Yes, The Wire, a work of fiction, portrays a grim picture of America. I do not have to walk very far to land in neighborhoods that make East Baltimore look like a holiday resort but that does not diminish the significance of yesterday's vote. Even in those neighborhoods people got up and went out to vote, many for the first time. Children woke up today now believing that they can achieve more than becoming gang-bangers and ending up in jail or dead before their 25th birthday.

Obama was born in 1961, at a time when his parents could not have dined together in many parts of the USA, where they could have been guilty of breaking miscegenation laws. Yet you diminish the significance that an offspring of that union in this country can rise to an overwhelming victory in such a hotly contested election.

You have misread the tea leaves on this one. I will send you a fresh batch of PG Tips.

Jeremy 7:35 pm  

Naapali you got me there. Great comment. In the American context, it was truly a great night of history making. I'm just voicing a little contrarianism that's all. Definitely, all the hoopla over this victory in Nigeria needs some kind of corrective. Anyone would think dude had some Nigerian blood in him.

By the way, Yorkshire Tea is nicer than PG Tips..

R.E.II™ 9:12 pm  

On tea, I wonder why the British/English added milk to it. Tea was never with milk. I love the English, forever.

ababoypart2 1:22 pm  

hindsight is such a great thing...For some reason I just hope your last sentence is reversed. I feel you though...in a way

Anonymous,  10:20 pm  

And your proof for this Bush-style moral-certainty view: "the US is utterly beset by the racial divide from top to bottom."????

The Wire!

Jeremy, you are a piece of work.

Sometimes, I just feel so sorry - not for you: for those who take your shoddy, sloppy views seriously.

Jeremy 10:26 pm  

Last anonymous: fuck you very much.

Your responses have not one whiff of substance. You are a puff of air, a smote of dust, froth upon the daydream.

Are you saying that The Wire is not an accurate depiction of a slice of American reality? That puts you at odds with almost everyone else.

Or, are you denying that racism is a deep issue in the US?

If you could just string together something resembling an argument my dear, we might talk..

Anonymous,  12:16 pm  


You and I just spoke. And others heard.

Didn't you notice?

About This Blog

  © Blogger templates Psi by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP