Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Waking up from history...

The only question that can be asked from the personal soapbox, "When did you know the world had changed?"

Was it when Ohio went for President Barack Obama? When the Greenwich, Connecticut electorate went Democrat for the first time since the Lyndon Johnson landslide in 1964?

Point being, a lot of us still had doubts, knowing America's byzantine voting procedures. On some level, we knew this day would come.

The gut feeling that Sen. Obama would pull this out has been here since mid-May, during the nomination fight (remember the media kept saying "presumptive nominee," even thought Sen. Hillary Clinton was mathematically eliminated), after reading a Politico piece on Jeffrey Berman, his director of delegate selection and his "detailed, Bill-Jamesesque approach to the game of politics."

"Analysts trying to explain Obama’s rise and Clinton’s fall tend to point to the big picture: Obama’s inspirational message, the drag of the Iraq war, the past and the future. But the heart of Obama’s victory has been technical and tactical — to the frustration and disbelief of Clinton’s inner circle."
For sure, this win belonged to everyone, especially the voters who had been told implicitly for eight years that they were less than real Americans by the Bush-Cheney camp -- African-Americans, minorities, women, younger voters. It is a lot more fun to talk about the audacity of hope, or to harken back to a November night four years ago, sitting in a bar in Simcoe, Ont., with a political-junkie colleague and The Legendary Chris Thomas, feeling heartsick over the outcome.

However, it is one thing to believe. It is another to know -- like Emerson said, one person who has a mind and knows it can beat 10 who haven't and don't. Obama and his team were the smartest folks in the room, and isn't it great for that phrase to have an entirely different connotation. What's also great is being able to get away from discuss politics on a blog about sports for the next little while.

The Obama campaign's 'unsung hero' (Ben Smith and Avi Zenilman, Politico, May 12, 2008)
No We Can't, White Folks; Now that Obama has won, here are five things white people shouldn't do (Christopher Beam and Chris Wilson,
No We Can't, Black Folks; Our man is going to the White House. Now here are five things black people shouldn't do (
When history's unfolding, don't get in the way (Adam Radwanski)


eyebleaf said...

Last night was fantastic. A friend of mine told me he was watching the electoral college scoreboard like it was game 7 of the finals. I would have to agree.

Anonymous said...

I was watching it like Game 4 -- of a four-game SWEEP!

kinger said...

Yeah, what a new dawn for America. Except for all the ballot measures that banned gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action, and the re-election of Ted Stevens.

sager said...

Change comes slowly, Tyler ... and yes, the irony of Prop 8 in California should not be lost on anyone. Couldn't someone have just gone to the people leading that crusade and say, "Do you really want to be in the same camp with Jeff Kent?"

Liberals and small-c conservative Democrats have been the ones settling for the little victories for a while now ... they got the big one, the White House.

Duane Rollins said...

Did you guys hear that Bob Rae declared his candidacy for the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Just sayin' If you follow.

I think it's great that Obama won. The symbolism of his win means a lot to a lot of people. But, 47 per cent of voters in the US still support repressive right-wing politics (for the record, I'm not saying all right wing politics are oppressive. I am saying that the type of theocratic, partisan right-wing politics that have ruled the U.S. for the last eight years are not only repressive, but downright toxic). I would have woke up this morning with a lot more hope if that number was down to around 40 per cent.

But, as Neate said, small victories. Hopefully this presidency can push the US spectrum ever so much closer to the centre (it's foolish to think that Obama will rule from the left. Liberal is still a dirty word in America, even though the country was founded on the principles of Liberalism. I blame Fox News).

To bring this back to my original's great that so many Canadians were enthralled by this race. But, even though the US has influence everywhere and especially here, what happens in Ottawa--and the provincial/territory capitals--still has a hell of a lot more influence on our day to day life than anything that happened south of the 49 last night. It would be spectacular if we payed 1/4 of the attention to our own politics as we did to this race.

Mike Radoslav said...

While I agree Duane I think the voter apathy we experienced this past election was due to the fact it was a completely unnecessary election, the result was never in doubt, and none of the parties really had anything to inspire the people - personally I can't find a single Canadian party out there I would actually stand behind, they're all pretty badly flawed!

You can't go to the polls as often as we have lately and expect people to still care. Canadians are political and do rally behind parties but right now we've been oversaturated with one election after another simply because the Reform - sorry, "Conservative" - Party doesn't want to play nice (didn't want to work as official opposition with parliament before, doesn't want to work with them even now as the ruling party!)

On top of all that the US right now IS the Empire of the world and the election down south was very enthralling, had many significant outcomes. And, of course, considering what Bush's regime did to the world's economic situation right now, it was important for everyone else as well.

I think Canadians will bounce back in terms of "election fever", but they can't be faulted right now for not caring as much as they do about the race to the White House.

Dennis Prouse said...

47 per cent of voters in the US still support repressive right-wing politics

Sorry to interrupt the liberal echo chamber, but I am not going to sit idly by while garbage like this gets tossed out.

Simply assuming that McCain = Bush is incredibly simplistic, and completely inaccurate. They are vastly different, both in character and ideology. Bush is a classic "big government conservative". He spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and had no problem with vastly expanding the scope of government. The considerable libertarian wing of the Republican Party had a huge problem with many aspects of the Patriot Act, the creation and scope of Homeland Security, etc. Economic conservatives were horrified by the runaway spending, and seeming lack of a plan for ever reigning it back in.

John McCain, in contrast, spoke out against Gitmo, against the use of torture, and against the Bush tax cuts. He likes tax cuts, of course, but McCain is an old fashioned guy who believes that they need to be paid for through reduced government spending. McCain has put his money where his mouth is on that one, as he has a gold standard voting record against pork barrel spending. Even on occasions when pork was dangled Arizona's way, McCain voted against it. He has a long history of tangling with his own party's leadership, long before Bush ever came along.

As for he and Bush, they hate each other with a passion, much like Chretien and Martin. The Bush gang didn't lift a finger for McCain, and in fact actively conspired against him in this Presidential election. Witness Dick Cheney's "endorsement" of McCain last week. Now, do you think a Machiavellian SOB like Cheney, who hates McCain personally, endorsed him to help him, or hurt him?

Many people who voted for John McCain saw a man of courage and honour, and a man who had a vast background in foreign policy, arguably the most important domain of a President. The fact that 47% of Americans voted for John McCain is actually a testament to McCain's character and independent nature. Had the GOP nominated a stiff like Mitt Romney, they would indeed have received the thorough trashing that many wanted them to get. It is odd that the GOP, a party that never truly embraced McCain as their nominee, actually owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as he saved them from a total and complete disaster on Tuesday night.

I am well aware of the incredible significance of Obama's election, and the great joy and hope it is creating amongst so many. It is wonderful to see, actually, as it proves that people's hope and spirit is still alive and well. Condi Rice said yesterday that America is wonderful because it continues to surprise you, and continues to re-invent itself. Obama's election is a powerful symbol of that. (Like McCain, Rice gave warm, gracious congratulations to Obama.)

Obama's speech on Tuesday night was incredibly uplifting and pitch-perfect for the moment. This man can inspire and motivate people like no one's business, a skill that will serve him well as he navigates some incredibly difficult waters over the next four years. I wish he and his charming family all the very best in the White House. It is worth noting, however, that his opponent, who gave a very classy and dignified concession speech, was also an honourable man and an outstanding candidate. To simply equate him to Bush with a dismissive waive of the hand is intellectually shallow and deeply unfair.

There, your resident right winger will go away now...

sager said...

Well-said, Dennis ... just to buttress your point a little, on the Huff Post this morning there's an article where the New York senior Sen. Chuck Schumer is talking about a "need for the old John McCain, a leader who worked in a bipartisan way."

Bush work in a bipartisan way? Bush work? The man went on more vacations than the Griswolds.

I don't know if people think about U.S. politics in terms such as this, but you know how it was said Robert Stanfield was the best PM Canada never had? (They might have said that about Paul Martin, too, until he scotched it by becoming prime minister.) It could be that way with McCain over the next 2-4 years.

The reality is America is a more conservative nation. Their political spectrum doesn't not go left to right -- it goes top to bottom, as Molly Ivins once wrote.

It would be great if we got this fired up over national politics in Canada ... I reflected on that many times when I was being put to sleep by our recent election campaign.

You know what else is great? Never having to mention That One, the one McCain had on his ticket, again ... the GOP now it comes out is a little predictable, but damn funny.

sager said...

I should also point out that I'm not a liberal, I'm a liberatarian if anything.

sager said...

Last thing I'll say about this ... read The New Republic on what a McCain Supreme Court would have looked like.

Duane Rollins said...


Your assuming that Republican voters actually were paying attention to policy debate, or to the election in any real way.

Fine...the fact that nearly 70 per cent of old white men voted GOP does not warm my heart. If the African-American and youth vote doesn't get out as strong as it did, then it's very likely that this election is a lot closer.

Lastly, McCain did in fact start to move away from some of his more centralist beliefs and appeal to the base late in the campaign--particularity the religious right. Palin's appointment was partly to appease that fraction.

I agree that McCain is a worthy man that would have made a decent president. But, he had to make an ideological shift to the right to even have a shot at it and he would have had to go even further if he wanted to have a chance at winning.

I am as far away from a partisan as you can get. My issue with the GOP of the last 20 years is the way it simplifies the world and tries to rule through dividing and conquering. It was always a with us or against us thing with Regan, with Bush 1 and, especially, with W. McCain, as you said, didn't play that game for the most part. But, he started to more and more as the campaign went on.

But, none of this speaks to my original point--Obama isn't our leader and Canadians should pay a hell of a lot more attention to our own politics. Excuses that our politics are boring don't cut it. It's our responsibility to pay attention. And, it was literally irritating me yesterday as I heard Canadian after Canadian talking about the Obama win. Enough. We're a different country.

Dennis Prouse said...

There is nothing more pathetic than the backbiting and finger pointing that takes place after a loss. I have been there, and it's a mess. What you are seeing now is some pathetic, mid-level staffers trying to scapegoat Palin for the defeat. Was she ready for prime time? Clearly not, but she isn't the reason why McCain lost. If you look at the polls dating back to the beginning of the year, the script for this campaign was written a long time ago. Sarah Palin was just a side story.

As a journalist, I'm sure Neate would be instinctively wary of those "anonymous sources" who leak stuff for their own benefit. Sarah Palin wasn't ready to be President, but do you really believe that a 44 year old university graduate and State Governor didn't know that Africa was a continent? That she didn't know which three countries comprise NAFTA? Please. This stuff is just third rate urban myth, with a nasty dose of sexism tossed in for good measure.

About a month ago, someone circulated an SAT score that was allegedly Palin's. People jumped all over it as fact. Shockingly, it turned out to be a fake. Who would have guessed?

Moral of the story -- only pay attention to the news stories that use quotation marks.