Friday, November 7, 2008

Victory, History, Sanity...

My intention was to write my thoughts regarding Barack Obama’s victory the morning after but - being an Internet junkie - I was treated to more activity and exchanging of ideas than any other time in memory. With all of the pictures from around the world, news articles and emails sent to friends my free time has been hijacked by hope.

By eleven o’clock that Tuesday the friends I was sharing the moment with finally allowed themselves to believe what was happening. In retrospect it was a spanking early on but the effects of the last eight years were really hard to shake off. At that point one friend had the brilliant idea of going outside, finding a pub, getting some food, and soak in the moment with others. Sure enough the first spot we hit was packed, all eyes on the T.V., and it was here we watched President-elect Obama give his acceptance speech.

It was simply amazing, both the speech and the response it invoked. People were cheering with tears in their eyes. There were hugs and high-fives. I have never seen even one-tenth of that excitement and emotion during any Canadian election. I thought this strange but only for a moment. America is still the leader of the free world and when they get it right, we all benefit.

So the numbers, they always tell a tale. Over 122 million voted, more than any other election and the greatest percentage of Americans since women were allowed to vote. That in itself is phenomenal. The count is not entirely complete but Obama got a projected 53% of the popular vote against 46% for McCain, that's a difference of just over seven million voters. In the electoral colleges however is where the thumping really took place. Obama got a projected 364 to McCain's projected 162. What does that say? Obama’s team ran a fantastic campaign, one for the ages. His votes were better distributed in big states and they wound up meaning more. This is what is meant by the ground game, campaigning and spending advertising money in all the right places.

One part that chills me is the number of stars and planets that had to align in order for this win to happen. The Obama campaign was as flawless as these long, protracted, and nasty battles can get. He was eternally calm, on point, and possessing a message that remained constant and effective. McCain on the other hand couldn't have been more sloppy. His campaign was always changing directions, woefully lacking in discipline, full of mudslinging, gaffes and embarrassments. There was so much drama that it’s still going strong even though the election is over. On top of that there were disastrous wars and a tanked economy, all of which worked in Obama’s favour. Yet still the popular vote was just 53 to 46. What are some of these people looking at? The voting majority of America has seen the light but there is still much darkness there.

96% of black voters went with Obama and there’s a joke somewhere in those numbers. I have to ask, who are these other 4%? What were they thinking? Just the thought of it makes me laugh. You have the chance to vote in not only the first black American President but clearly the candidate who ran the best campaign but no, instead you decide to let history pass you buy. These people deserve “I VOTED FOR McCAIN” t-shirts. We need to identify them so that we can offer our sympathies. What are they going to tell their children and grandkids? “It was a great time in our history son but I said ‘aw fuck it’ and voted for the angry white guy.” I want to be there, I want to see that conversation play out. I want to hear a kid reply: “Grandpa, you’re a dick!”

The Republican Party is in shambles after this. The Grand Ole Party has been hit by a crippling schism; divergent paths in its evolution. The old-school conservatives; small government, pro-business veterans have been jumping through hoops trying to convince the new-style church and state evangelists that they have their interests at heart, but it’s not true and so the bible belt isn’t buying it. If they have it their way then Sarah Palin is the future of the party. That would be glorious for the sheer comedy alone and would have the upside of all but ensuring Obama’s two terms while the party purges itself of the unbelievers. I expect blood, guts, and horribly funny things being said in the years to come.

Alaska, man what a crazy piece of real estate! Not only can we thank them for a two-time dropout-raising, clothes-whoring, hockey mom of a rogue V.P. candidate but they nearly re-elected Senator Ted Stevens. This is the “Internet is a series of tubes” guy. Just a week earlier he was CONVICTED of seven counts of making false statements. This old man got his home remodelled by an oil company. By remodelled I mean they lifted the whole thing in the air, built another home underneath it, and then put a swanky deck around the whole thing. This speaks volumes of the whole democratic process in general and not just America either. His supporters and the key people that got him elected probably don’t care that he’s a crook, hell he’s probably stolen from them! They just want someone on their side, who will vote the way they want him to in order to protect their interests. They could give two shits if he pads his pockets in the process. You can in fact be a convicted felon and still have a seat in the Upper House. The senate however can hold a vote and ask you to leave because you are, in fact, a sleazeball.

I’ll be following that one with glee, as will I be following the potential doom of another Senator; the Democratic-hyphen-Independent Joe Lieberman. This guy shit-talked his own one time too many and now Majority Leader Harry Reid seems finally, FINALLY preparing to draw the political knife across his throat. Joe campaigned for McCain and raised the spectre of fear among his Jewish constituents by insisting that Barack Obama meant danger to Israel. Lieberman sits as chairperson of the Homeland Security Committee and the democrats kept him around because they felt they needed his vote. His presence and backbiting mouth mocked them though, revealed their cowardice and inability to act decisively. Now with more wins in congress I'm hoping they feel they don’t need him but I think they should have axed him from the caucus despite his vote and fully regain their honour in doing so. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already extending his hand to the guy and if Lieberman takes it then he’ll be revealed for what he was all the time: a Republican in all-but name and a rank political opportunist besides. Stay tuned.

There has been new electricity going through my body this week. Is that the change President-elect Obama was talking about? Any day now all of North America could be plunged into a full-blown depression and perhaps there has been so much damage done already that Obama won’t be able to pull his country out. What is of comfort to me however is that even if the going gets rougher the leader of the free world is once again a charismatic intellect and what’s better, a person who looks and sounds like someone from our time. Barack Obama just might be the first modern ruler on this continent and that is going to be history that we get to watch unfold every single day.