Obama: Why we got up at 4am
It has been an amazing thing to watch. Around the world, people have been transfixed on the US election – or more precisely, on the inspirational Barack Obama’s successful campaign for a second term as America’s first black president.
The Harvard law graduate is like a Nelson Mandela for the 21st century – a global icon of good leadership in a world just dying for beacons of probity and aspiration. Like Mandela, Obama’s first term was not perfect.
He set important benchmarks for social solidarity, but too often American foreign policy was a drone of sameness.
Still, there was a common sense around the world that he deserved a second term, and apparently his nation felt the same. The results on Wednesday morning were watched and celebrated around the world.
In Kenya, where Obama’s gran still lives, the nation was at a standstill. Everywhere else and even here on the southern tip, we were transfixed and inspired.
“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, keep working, to keep fighting,” said Obama as he pledged his allegiance to all of America, not only those who had elected him.
Why so much excitement about this election, even at a time when America’s pre-eminence is dimming as the world enters a new era of global relations? There is the Obama factor and the great love story that is him, Michelle, Malia and Sasha.
But there is also the fact that America’s was a real election where you get a sense of a true democracy in action.
The campaign was occasionally snarling and bitter, as commentators have noted, but the bipartisan system and the transparency of both the party primaries and the campaign proper are still great examples of democracy in action.
Across the seas in China, an equally important transfer of power was being held as the ruling Communist Party transfers power to the next generation by red diktat.
It’s important, but it is not inspiring, and neither is it inclusive. Even the doves have been barred from the central committee shindig.
Our wish for our nation is for changes to the way we elect our leadership and for a balanced political landscape in the decades to come.
We are a fine democracy and some changes will make us age better, like a good wine.