Wednesday, November 05, 2008

“Change” and “Hope”

A 51 per cent of the American electorate has decided to elect as president of their nation an unknown with less than two years of service as senator. A totally romanticized campaign by a superficial press used to seeing even politicians as Hollywood stars and celebrities served him both as shield and shield bearer.

But there it is, no matter what. History. The first Black president or better said, first mixed race president, in a country whose founders were slave owners. The questions which the press never asked during the primaries or the rest of the campaign are still left to be asked and researched next to new ones which will develop soon.

What is clear is that many things have occurred and that more than one change have ocurred already. Apparently many “Reagan Democrats” returned home, the base of the Republican Party was left leaderless, young people who voted for the first time may have elected a president with the same depth and manner as in “American idol”, many whites could not pass on the opportunity to expiate their racial guilt complex, most blacks voted as traditional Democrats but also solely on race, and both parties have been left stunned in awe and perplexity.

¿What happened to the Democrats? Among other things, the final breath of life was finally exhaled from “Clintonism”, and with it the end of Hillary’s dream of becoming president (unless the next four years are a total disaster). “Clintonism” was like an affective disorder attacking the nervous system of the Democratic Party. Nobody inside the party, or in its allied press, dared to go against the Clintons. Obama ended that fear and bit by bit loyal “Clintonistas” started defecting.

“Clintonism”, a replacement for “Kennedyism” in itself replaced by “Carterism”, was a machinery which was left behind when Obama built his campaign not only from within the party but from the outside with the help of the Internet and small donations and also with great help from Wall Street.

What happened to the Republicans? Its populism collapsed. A great conservative sector of the middle class and working class was left without leadership. No Reagan emerged among them. Nobody inspired them to see and understand the need or justification for their political and economic sacrifices when either party, but especially the Republican Party, did not solve the problem of illegal immigration and the flight of jobs to overseas locations. They did not see many differences between their hardships and those of their fellow citizens of the other party.

The populism inspired by Reagan, for good or bad, with its sense of national and world purpose was deflated when Republican legislators and the presidency could not be distinguished apart from the Democrats in matters of spending and the lack of defense of the nation’s borders. With his reputation as a “compromiser” with the Democrats, McCain could not convince many of representing a “change” from Bush and much less inspire them.

But just as many people discovered that one thing was for Cardinal Ratzinger to rule as guardian of a realm of the Church and another thing is to rule as general pastor of the whole flock, Obama and his voters will discover that one thing is the rhetoric of campaigns and another the maneuvering between the many who will soon come to collect on political debts.

Sen. Obama has been elected because of his race and in spite of his race. What all American citizens should hope for is that his performance will be judged, as Rev. Martin Luther King would have recommended, not with the color of his skin in mind but by the content of his character.

Change is definitely awaiting those who elected Sen. Obama. For now, all that remains is the hope that it will be the kind they hope for.

Spanish version