Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's America

Had America chosen to elect the Republican, it would have been on the wrong side of history. At a time when the world’s interconnections have never been more evident, a septuagenarian in the White House would have been anachronism. A relic of the Cold War, McCain would not have had the cognitive capacity to situate himself and his country in the fabric of the global community. His would be a punitive, paranaoïque America – suspicious of everyone and everything.

Barack Obama is not only shiny-new and palpably earnest. He is the embodiment of what the United States has lost in the last eight years – a moral force that would unmistakably do the right thing. He also embodies American exceptionalism – that national myth that puts the American experience in the realm of the extraordinary – head and shoulders above the rest. Yes that “shining beacon” on top of the hill. Indeed where else could a black man have been elected President outside of the Dark Continent?

His inaugural address is properly resolute and sober. He speaks of the rocky road ahead, an America at the heart of the impending global depression. He calls on the people to draw deep from the well of America’s history – a collective memory of valor in the face of immense difficulty. He is credible, authentic, when he makes this call. His life’s story is an exemplar – a slice of American spunk and grit. A complete one hundred eighty degree turn from the Bush era’s fear of the ‘Other’, Obama owns the triumphs of multiculturalism. He pays tribute to the first immigrants from Europe, and the millions more who would follow to build the nation.

The rest of the speech draw images of an America once again ready to engage the world. He extends a hand to Muslims, and to millions watching around the globe. Never have I seen a US president so acutely aware of America’s place in the world, and indeed, the moral role it must play. Obama very calmly takes on the mantle of messianic America - with all its strength and its weaknesses. As pretenders wait in the wings, we welcome Obama's America - an inclusive power with a leadership that seeks to dialogue where others shoot before asking questions. We shall have to take Barack for his word - that he will seek to build bridges rather than nuking them.

In choosing Barack Obama, the United States once more flexes that weapon no amount of defense spending would ever muster. No other country - not federated Europe, not nascent China nor the resurgent Russia has ever quite possessed nor wielded the might of the American ideal.

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