Friday, November 7, 2008

An American in America

It must be strange to be an American this week. So many people overseas and not-so-overseas were following this election that it almost seemed as if President-Elect Obama had been elected President of the World, not just one of the United States of America.

I was just beginning to pay attention to government and international relations when President Bush was elected, so for me it feels like Bush has been president forever. It's a shock when I hear a voice on the radio speaking with similar authority but in such an entirely different way. Bush is folksy. He makes foreign policy sound like a very complicated discussion on what kind of barbecue sauce to use.

Obama is the complete opposite: in his much-applauded acceptance speech at midnight on November 5th, Obama promised his daughters a puppy. Discussion about the type of puppy Obama will get for his girls has been rampant. I heard a response from Obama on this topic and the President-Elect can make a discussion about what kind of puppy he's getting sound as serious (although not as complicated) as foreign policy.

Whatever you may think about Obama's policies (more about them later), he will certainly be a very different type of politician. Obama is a fairy-tale President. It's an enlightening coincidence that in the lovely movie Dave, Dave is the 44th president and, at the end, runs on a slogan of change. Dave is an Obama president. Or Obama is a Dave president. Both fulfill an idealism imagined in the fairy-tale world of stories. Obama is an American among Americans.

What kind of resistance will the politics of hope receive among a real population? Can Obama pull off the kind of change he outlines at change.gov? What does the fairy-tale look like when it is put into action on earth? I look forward to finding out.

You will hear more from me about this subject. I'm not an American, but I live less than an hour from the border. And Barack Obama may not be my President-Elect, but his approach to this election has actually elevated his candidacy past the mere winning of the presidency of America. He has in fact managed to centre himself- at least for a brief period- as one of the first new, truly electric leaders of the almost entirely interconnected Earth of the 21st century and this millennium.

Stay safe, Barack Obama. We all want to see what you can do.

2 comments:

Mohajir said...

I completely agree.

Though the number of Obama related facebook status messages, instant messages, SMS, links, posts, etc etc etc is really beginning to piss me off.

Mitchell Gerskup said...

As happy as I am that Obama is going to be the next president, I think there is a tendency among Canadians to misrepresent what Obama actually stands for. They might talk about foreign policy differently, but there is very little substantive difference between the so-called "Bush doctrine" and what Obama has been advocating. That's not to say that America shouldn't necessarily take on the role it does internationally, but I feel like a lot of people are going to be disappointed when they realize that Obama isn't going to be as big a shift away from Bush as they had hoped. That isn't to say he's not a strong candidate with (some) good policies, just that Canadians should re-evaluate what they believe Obama to be.