Waking Up

Well, that was a very long night.

While the night began with a majority non-US audience, by the time the election was called there were only two non-US citizens left, and as it progressed I ended up being the only non-US citizen to stay to watch President-elect Obama’s victory speech. Only one US citizen was a Republican and McCain supporter, and he and I spent most of the time discussing the false illussions of ‘change’ that Mr. Obama’s election represented; him from the right and me from the left. Very wierd and unusual.

So, I lost my bet that McCain would win. Thats okay. As I’ve said before I regard Mr. Obama as a lesser evil than Mr. McCain. Watching Mr. McCain’s concession speech though one did have to wonder why he didn’t speak like that more during the campaign. With the close margin of victory by popular vote, more of that ‘real’ McCain may well have been enough to trump the negative Palin factor and win the election for him.

It was interesting watching the pro-Obama US citizens, and listening to their thoughts. While one of them did try to stress that change will not happen overnight, and tried to downplay all the hype built up around Mr. Obama, one got the sense he was forcing himself to say that.

As should be clear to most regular readers of this blog, I am a supporter of the Socialist Party USA, who also ran in the election with an extremely remote chance of winning. I don’t know how many votes they recieved yet, but I’ll post them here when I do.

I get the impression that alot of pro-Obama people have this illussion of him as being a phenomenal change and that the US Imperialist system has changed irrevocably with this election. I hold no such illussions in an Obama presidency. For all his talk of change, this change appears more cosmetic than anything else, both in the sense of US institutional racism and its capitalist-imperialist orientation. It is possible that with all the hype about some ambigous ‘change’ that pressure may indeed result in some profound and long-lasting changes. These should be encouraged and supported. But they should also be ruthlessly critiqued when they amount to ‘talking left, walking right’ as is all too common in politics. Positive reforms should be expanded on in these critiques to show that they are good, but not good enough, and this is what needs done.

One hopes indeed that this ‘change’ will result in substantial change and not the mere cosmetic changes it appears to be right now. But I am awake to the fact that it most likely will not be substantial. It remains to be seen how long it will take for others to wake up to this fact also.

For now, I recommend capuchino, tea, and a good heavy dose of critical thinking.

38 thoughts on “Waking Up

  1. Jon, I agree with your premise of critical thinking, but…

    It is about time the US did the right thing. Electing Obama was the right thing for them.

    And 4+ million in popular vote is not even close.

    You should be happy. Mr. Obama is a lot closer to your ideals than any previous democrat or republican. Give it a rest, and just accept that the US voters are finally coming around to some semblance of sensibility.

  2. Sorry, Jonathan, but I fundamentally disagree with you. The election of Barack Obama is something that I view as a triumph for common sense, dignity and hope. Today is a great day in history, as far as I’m concerned. As to whether we will see genuine change in the US, I’m prepared to believe that Obama will bring about such change, and he deserves the chance to demonstrate this. Obama may not hold your socialist political views, but very few people do, and the people have spoken.

  3. Hi RenMan, while 4+million is indeed large, I believe in percent terms he got about 52% to McCain’s 48%, which demonstrates that the US electorate is quite divided.

    I would say that Obama is marginally closer to my ideals than McCain. Marginally. There are quite a few good critiques of his positions, and from here he appears as more cosmetic than substantial in terms of change.

    Hi Loki, Yes, its a great day, relatively. But rhetoric does not equate into substantial change. I wish him luck, but I’m certainly not going to be surprised if his presidency amounts to more disappointment than the Clinton Presidency did.

  4. At least with the Republicans I know what to expect from them; they talk right and walk right. The Democrats have a tendency of talking left and walking right. Of course, I expect Obama to be much much better than Bush (not that thats going to be all that hard…).

  5. Congrats to the Obamaites! Truly amazing.

    And Jonny, that McCain was who I was trying to tell you about. Pretty cool guy, init? 🙂

  6. “But rhetoric does not equate into substantial change.”

    Yes, I agree with that but, unlike many politicians, I actually believe that Obama is sincere in his commitment. We’ll see………

  7. Alsys, I’m with you on that!

    I like THAT McCain. I’d support THAT McCain.
    If THAT McCain had run, we’d be having a whole ‘nother conversation and I would still be VERY happy.

    However, he didn’t. Instead, we got some cranky, unpleasant old man who thought it would be a good idea to choose that horrific woman as his potential vice prez.

  8. Sweets, I liked THAT John McCain a long time ago. I just didn’t see him around for a while.
    When he got nominated, I was in the “Ok, I’m for Obama, but at least if he loses, McCain’s a solid dude” camp… until he got all… like he did.
    I was pleased with this election because for once, in my opinion, it wasn’t the lesser of two evils. It was two candidates (And even Sen. Clinton, to a point, love her or hate her) that I liked and believed in. If only they’d have stayed like that.

  9. I know exactly what you mean. But for me, I figured 18 years of THAt McCain trumped who he “became” in order to be the Republican frontrunner. I firmly believed and still do that he would have come back to THAT guy. He’s got a track record I can believe in. Obama doesn’t. I really am awed at the concept of a black president, I’m happy that Obama won for so many reasons but I simply don’t think he’s the best choice of the two. But hey, it doesn’t really matter. Obama is an amazing and inspiring man but, he’s just not my dude.

  10. Same, but the opposite side of a coin. *grin*

    This is like some weird political Odd Couple sitcom, innit?

    “She’s a black Republican that supports McCain! He’s a white Liberal that supports Obama! This fall, watch their wacky antics and see what they get up to on “Alsys ‘n’ Elvis” only on GTv!”

  11. HA! D’ya think we’d have an audience? We can advertize on Sux…

    Wait, would that make Rummy the snoopy and slightly loopy nextdoor neighbour??

  12. I became a pretty bing McCain fan over the years due in no small part to his appearances with Jon Stewart so even though I was in the Obama camp since the first primaries once the nominations came out it was kind of like okay well, whoever wins its pretty much all good. Then the campaign started and it was like wtF happened to McCain?? The real McCain, or what I thought was the real McCain would have made a fabulous president, and the fact that he became what he did during the last couple months seems well… even worse than it would be if that’s just who he was.

    The McCain of last night / a few years ago minus Palin may well have taken it, not that I’m really complaining though since my guy won!

  13. Well, the popular vote was pretty darn close so had it not been for Palin (IMO) McCain would have probably won.

  14. I’m not gonna disagree there, alsys. Palin was a nightmare.
    I’m still shocked that they got as many votes as they did, with her as a candidate.

    And, yes, giddiness is the order of the day.

    Canuck, you summed it up perfectly.

  15. “Is it just me, or are most people in a giddy mood today? LOL”

    Actually yes, everyone is in a giddy, positive mood right now, including me. The first sounds I heard was Thaoo Dill relaying the information and I instantly thought that “It was a hell of a note to wake up on”. Everyone I’ve encountered today (And I get around!) appear to be Obama supporters and are happy as hell.

    One thing that I will note was that Thaoo and another caller were marveling how Obama did it without resorting to racial silliness, I thought “Now you get it!”, I truly hope that politics in Bermuda take note and grow up along the same lines. It’s a great day! 🙂

  16. One thing that I will note was that Thaoo and another caller were marveling how Obama did it without resorting to racial silliness, I thought “Now you get it!”, I truly hope that politics in Bermuda take note and grow up along the same lines.

    Here’s to hoping, my friend. Here’s to hoping.

  17. Even some of us non-Obama supporters, Full, are pretty darn giddy. Like I said, no matter which side you are looking at this from, it is a momentous time. Simply, history was made. Like McCain said last night:

    “This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.”

  18. You have to see thi man in person to get the feel. I voted for the man not his heritage etc. He is dynamic and the support he received from white voters is a milestone. Peoples of all backgrounds hugging and dancing and being whom they are.

    I have never seen anything like it in my life. A comming together of people for a cause and good governance.

    I am sure he will do his best because he is part of “We”.

    And as they say, a man is only as good as his tools. Lets hope the Dems back it up and the Reps work with them.

  19. Starr,

    I think you may regret this: you are missing the point. And whats blinding you is your objective stance. Which I suppose comes from your training and historical perspective.

    This election was big symbolically yes. But in the details, things are also changing radically.

    This guy is different. His election trashes a heap of foreign policy biases that the republicans clung to grimly. The american attitude toward government in the economy will change utterly. Night and Day. Not the way you socialists think makes sense but hey – you, Star, were the one talking to the republican. Both of your economic models have been exploded. Its appropriate that you should lick wounds together. The neo-cons came from Trotskyite roots. So you do have things in common.

    obama will focus on government service as a virtue. This is a bit mind blowing but quite appropriate. Education in the west is a storage method for young souls until they can start consuming. Direct participation in social development is considered naive. Obama would like to change that. In a country in which, like Bermuda, a lack of education is cherished and encouraged, this will be a hard sell. But Obama looks like a very determined person.

    This guy has brains and knowledge to burn. There has not been a president like this since Wilson. Experience is going to be a shock to him. But he looks tough.

    He is different in an unideological way. Sorry Neo-cons. Sorry postmoderns. Sorry commies. He doesn’t fit the profile. But he is different and he might shift the paradimg. No one is saying it will be easy. But in the US, hope can go a very long way.

    Cahow: The democrats have a long history of wimping out when the going gets tough. The republicans tend to be much more enduring and supportive of their commitments and team members. Remember Kerry, Gore and Clinton: all left to swing in the breeze by the party once they started to look a little funny. If I were Obama I would not trust them over much.

  20. John – a question,

    You use the phrase capitalist-imperialist orientation in your comments. Everyone can understand the capitalist part – but imperialist?

    One tends to think of France, Britain, Holland etc when thinking of imperialism. Why do you use the word in the context of the US?

    Just a question.

  21. I was just thinking in terms of the death and destruction caused by Japan over so many years, which was much greater than the mentioned above.

  22. Hi Mike, I’m still rather busy, but I’ll take a quick stab at answering your question.

    I really don’t see much difference between capitalism and imperialism; capitalism is essentially an imperialism of capital over labour, and while you can have ‘formal’ imperialism without capitalism, capitalism itself is inherently imperialist. The problem I think most people have is that they only equate imperialism with formal imperialism, as in the great European imperialisms (Spain, Portugal, Dutch, German, French, British, Russia) and Japan (whose colonies would have been Korea, Taiwan, huge swathes of mainland China). The USA incidentally also had and has formal colonies. Most of these date from the ‘Guano Wars’ of the late 19th and early 20th Century, and include numerous Pacific islands, as well as some major ones (Guam, the Philipines) as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. One could argue that Liberia was their African colony.

    But the predominant form of imperialism today would be an informal imperialism, or neo-colonialism. This is a ‘spheres of influence’ or imperialism without formal occupation. Much of South America were formerly informal colonies of the UK for example, while much of the so-called Third World remain effectively colonies of former imperial powers but not in name. Bermuda represents an oddity in that politically we are formally a British colony, but for all practical purposes I think we would be seen as a colony of the US, as is much of the Caribbean to our south.

    The US today are the largest of the imperial powers, although economically and culturally they are beginning to decline relative to East Asia. They remain the dominant military power for the moment however.

    Wikipedia provides some guiding for further reading here:

    Hope that helps for now.

  23. “One could argue that Liberia was their African colony”

    Nnnnnnyeah… that’s a bit of a stretch. I see where you’re coming from, but I think it’s WAY too weak an argument to make.

  24. I disagree. While Liberia was founded by the ‘non-governmental organisation’ of the American Colonisation Society, it has always had a special relationship with the USA, even after declaring its independence. US commercial interests have historically have had preferential access to Liberian resources and markets. When the government of Liberia began to assert some degree of independence (establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR, PRC and Cuba; suspending diplomatic relations with Isreal following the Yom Kippur War; advocating for reparations for Palestinian refugees) a US supported coup (its not clear how supported, but it certainly wasn’t opposed) in 1980 installed a military junta that served as a US base for military and espionage activities throughout Africa.

    So, while its official status as a colony of the US is a little bit of a grey area, its pretty clear that Liberia has served as an informal colony of the US for most of its history.

  25. I’ll give you this one, but only because both sides have equal arguments *grin*

    Which is kinda what you said in your original post! *lol*

    I totally dig what you’re saying, though, and agree with the “imperialist” tag.

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