I can’t take any credit

Posted in Society at 10:28 by RjZ

Let’s get this out there right away: I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama. But, like many, around the entire world (!) I am glad to have him as the president of the United States. It’s a significant achievement. Not only because he is (part) black. Not only because he’s actually seen more of the world than only our neighboring countries. Not only because it will be a relief to have a president who can form a complete sentence. Perhaps most important, was how the Obama campaign inspired and rallied 134 million voters (64% of eligible voters), many, many of them brand new voters, to go to the polls and to feel enfranchised in the United States.

I suspect that the huge bump in world-wide public relations will fade all too rapidly, at least Mr. Obama does appear to be able to speak to foreign leaders without embarrassing the United States. I’m afraid that the news for African Americans is mixed. Many will see Mr. Obama’s election as proof that the nation has arrived at true racial equality. In spite of a new black president, the statistics for black Americans didn’t changed on November 4th and the statistics don’t look any better in terms of incarceration rates and poverty for African Americans. There are two sides to the “Yes You Can” mantra. The feeling that you can succeed is yoked to the responsibility to do the work, and unfortunately, many African Americans are starting off with a disadvantage, whether it’s of their own making or not.

I don’t believe Mr. Obama won by motivating the ‘black’ vote (and certainly not elected because the world is so ecstatic about our choice). It’s quite likely that many did not vote for him because he is black. Many more appreciated the historic nature of the election and voted, in part, for him because he is black. More importantly, the campaign will be an unmistakable lesson for future politicians.

Mr. Obama’s campaign was about motivating, and inspiring people to become part of the campaign itself. Mr. Obama has already been compared with John F. Kennedy. His campaign, and hopefully his presidency, has not been only about what he will do, or what damage his opponent would do. Instead supporters were asked to “hope” and work for “change.” They were asked to become part of the solution and not only vote, but get the vote our from others. During his acceptance speech the theme continued. Mr. Obama told supporters, as well as those whose supports he has not yet won, that there is much work to be done and he needs their help.

“Ask not what your country can do for you…” John Kennedy said, and he too was an inspiring president. For a libertarian, my hope is that Mr. Obama’s administration will continue this theme; for it shakes the foundation of entitlement that has grown so prevalent, aided in no small part by President Bush, in the United States today.

Conservatives are worried that the Democrats will only raise taxes. I worry too, but if my choice had only been between Republican and Democrat (it wasn’t!) I would not have had any confidence that the incessant claims of what McCain and Palin would do for their constituents to win their vote seemed to me just more entitlement, akin to Bush’s promise that a war in Iraq wouldn’t trouble Americans with any inconvenience, be over in a few months, only cost $60 million, and that the best way to defeat the terrorists was to go out and shop.

Even though he didn’t get my vote, I join African Americans, Democrats, new voters, most of my friends and the majority of American voters in their excitement about the promise of our new President. I join people in Kenyan villages, Indonesian schools, Australian pubs, a city in Japan which shares the name of Obama, and people all across Europe and much of the world who stayed up late just to watch the elections of a country where they don’t even have a vote because they believe that change may leak out of our borders and into theirs. I join them in this excitement and hope. Now let’s listen to his first speech as president-elect: the real work lies ahead of us. And that’s not just him, but all of us!

1 Comment »

  1. Traveling Hypothesis » But McCain can take some credit said,

    November 5, 2008 at 12:54

    [...] my last post, I admitted that I can’t take any credit for Mr. Obama’s election, but I think McCain, [...]

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