Sunday, 18 January 2009

Barack Obama

Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States this coming Tuesday.

There are many things wrong with the United States; politically, economically, attitudinally and perhaps even culturally.


I have never been to the United States and rightly do not claim to understand the Country, its customs, its people or its collective personality. My views about America are formed by the tourists I meet, a few Americans I have worked with, what I see in movies and on TV shows, see and read in news reports and what I read in literature.

Therefore, I must have a very limited and edited view of the country, and have believed it to be in many ways a larger, louder and more culturally diverse version of Australia.

Like many outside of the States, I have followed US politics with some interest and never more so than during the last Presidential election and the preceding primaries.

George W. Bush may well be one of the great President’s however he has been portrayed to me as being akin to a clown. I am sure he is not a clown. I am also sure he is not one of the greats. The passage of time may prove one or the other correct.

I know little about Hilary Clinton’s policies but had developed the hope that if she was in the Oval Office, a Mother might be less inclined to send citizens to war. Idealistic? Certainly. Hopeful? Absolutely.

As President, Hilary was not to be however I remain hopeful about the new Secretary of State.

As we (in Australia) became more aware of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, we also became more aware of broader America and the views of many of the ordinary citizens who were ultimately to decide the election.

I could not believe the Republican Party, with all its resources, research and will to win, could anoint Sarah Palin as its VP candidate and as a person who would be a positive contributor to winning the Presidency for John McCain.

For one, I shuddered at the hypocrisy of being “pro life and pro guns?

The entry of Sarah Palin into the election resulted in Australian’s getting more coverage of what might be considered her prime support areas. And while we can dismiss these supporters as being mis-informed, na├»ve, religious zealots and even racist, it perhaps more correctly revealed there are very large areas of America that are strongly, strongly conservative.

I knew America was not all Carl Lewis, Lance Armstrong, Friends, CSI, I Love Lucy, Hollywood Boulevard and Wall Street. I did not understand the diversity of cultures and opinions of the more rural and disadvantaged areas and communities. I did not understand the strong religious commitment of these people and the conservative views and opinions long held and passed down through generations.

The world awaits with great optimism the Presidency of the Barack Obama. It is exciting and is a chance for the US to assume once again a leadership role in the world.

And maybe, just maybe, the positive to come from the current financial crisis is for the American people as a whole to take a less insular view of their world and realise not everything in 2009 revolves around their country and even their own few square miles. And perhaps also, the US leadership will be more aware of just what the Country’s reputation is throughout the world and its people and the almost bully boy tactics are no longer appreciated.

I for one was impressed when Barack Obama stated during the campaign that he would seek to talk and get to know the Iran leadership. I am equally unimpressed that post election, he is backing away from this position.

But for all that is wrong with the US and other countries in the developed and free enterprise democratic world, a quote from Barack Obama’s radio address to the Nation was in my opinion a testament to the ideals and the need for genuine democracy.

The following is taken from Big Pond News and says it all.

Obama used his radio address Saturday to preview the themes of his inauguration, certain to be expounded upon in his much-anticipated speech on Tuesday.
He took particular note of the peaceful transfer of power from George W. Bush's administration to his, a transition that saw the outgoing and incoming teams work cooperatively, often literally side-by-side, in ways never seen before.
It could be a model for the globe, Obama suggested.
'Even today billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power without strife or bloodshed,' he said.

Lets all hope that Barack Obama can match his rhetoric with his actions. Internationally as well as domestically.

The world needs it to be so – America needs it to be so.

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