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Everyone at my school was celebrating this afternoon, because word had filtered through that Obama was about to win the election. They were still counting at that time, and at least half the states hadn’t yet been called, but based on projections Obama had twice as many electoral college votes as McCain. Twice as many. He appeared to have the presidency in the bag — as, we discovered later that evening, he did. Even before waiting that long, my year level got into the celebratory mood, running and crying, “Have you heard? Obama’s gonna be the president! The black guy’s gonna be the president!”

From next January, the US will have its first-ever black president. This is undoubtedly a historic moment for the US. They’ve come a long way from segregation, and before that, from slavery. It’s a big symbolic event. I’m not even sure how to describe it. I suppose it’s a sign of reconciliation, in a way. African Americans were long mistreated, or regarded as inferior, to white Americans, but now everyone is equal. And not only that, but everyone accepts that everyone is equal, and that there is no problem in electing an African American to be the president.

Awe-inspiring as this is, race is not the reason I was supporting Obama. I was supporting Obama because the US President is also effectively the leader of the world, and Obama seems far better suited to that role than McCain does. Even by himself, McCain’s foreign policy was godawful. Sarah Palin really didn’t help. Anyone who sings, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” automatically disqualifies themselves as an eligible president. Or, well, they should.

Obama’s foreign policy seemed to centre around the principles of negotiating with America’s enemies. He backed down on this a little, I think, but negotiating with America’s enemies is a great idea. Don’t alienate these people, because that only makes them hate you! Help these people, hear out their concerns, be willing to compromise on some things. If one state is fair and helpful, other states tend to like it, support it, sympathise with it. The US could wield soft power a lot more effectively, I feel.

Obama is obviously not as gung-ho about the whole “being nice to people” thing as I am. He advocates raids on Pakistani territory despite that being a contravention of international law, and a great way to piss off Pakistanis to boot. If I recall correctly, he backed down on his intention to negotiate with Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. Obviously, if he starts being too nice to “America’s enemies” he’s going to lose the support of the people at home, and in a democracy he can’t do that if he wants to keep his job.

But oh, how the world could benefit if he did.

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3 Comments

  1. Diplomacy, over all-out war. I don’t want to quote SNL as my source, but they actually put it perfectly:

    Democrats: I believe diplomacy is the cornerstone to any foreign policy.
    Palin: And I can see Russia from my house!

  2. SNL puts a lot of things perfectly, I find. When I saw Palin on the news asserting that it was “SO COOL” that they had secret ballots in the US, I had to shake my head in disbelief. Secret ballots are many things, but cool?

  3. Everyone accepts that everyone is equal? Hmmm.. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that but I do think that the election of an African American into office is a great start for change. Young adults had a lot to do with Obama’s victory… I think it shows promise.

    Sometimes, Obama shocks me with his statements about the Middle East. Because he’s a Democrat, I thought he’d just pull troops out of Iraq and call it good. (Well, not THAT easy but you get the idea). At times, I think his “tough American” demeanor might have to do with the fact that he still has to appeal to MORE Americans and, surely, saying that he wants to back down in asserting this country’s greatness was not going to help him when his patriotism was often questioned by McCain’s campaign. We’ll just have to see how he’ll deal with things now that he has the presidency in the bag.
    If he wants to just “talk things out”, some Americans will immediately see this as pure idiocy because Middle Eastern leaders despise the US. Some will argue that you can’t possibly reason with someone whose culture and values are so different from ours — specifically, with people who hate everything that we stand for. However, it seems like Middle Eastern leaders like him so I hope they can be more public about liking Obama. That would be a good enough explanation that he can offer to Americans who are skeptical about the Middle East’s willingness to cooperate if he does end up in diplomatic talks instead of just dropping bombs there.


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