Thursday, 6 November 2008


American politics, oh boy. Yee-hah, and as some dude on TV hollered at me yesterday, 'America's back, baby!'


So Barack Obama won the election and good for him. I don't know much about the man. The coverage of the election here has been very patchy and I haven't gone out of my way to find out more. I was never very involved with politics when I lived in America and feel even more disengaged now that I live in England. I'd rather have him than another 4 years of the Republicans, though.

Anna Down Under mentioned on her blog that her heart and soul are still in America. I don't feel the same. I'm not really proud to be an American because that was just an accident of birth. I am grateful to have been born in the Western world, obviously, because that's where the good life is, where we all live like kings and are comfortable and well-fed enough to be distracted by things like kettlebells and veganism and Republicans and Democrats. We've got problems in the West, but lack of health care and being on the dole are not quite as bad as having to drink from fetid streams contaminated with raw sewage and, if you're lucky, living in a dirt-floor shack made of scraps paid for by working to make cheap jeans to be sold in Wal-mart. We need to remember that our problems would be easy to solve if some of the power were taken out of the hands of corporations. Apparently it's really, really hard to do the right thing, even when the money's there. To me, it's just a little bit weird that America is so rich they can have poured so much money into just an election, money that equalled or surpassed the GNP of some of those nations in the 'developing world.' I guess I've just got a different perspective. And I have to admit I am sometimes embarrassed by America, the patriotism and jingoism and the scale of it all. At least it would seem that Mr. Obama is a tall and handsome, well-spoken statesman who won't embarrass us in front of the rest of the world.

Of course it's wonderful to have opened this new door in the political scene, where it might be okay at last to be an ethnic minority, gay, atheist, disabled, or otherwise 'different' and be allowed to hold office and have a voice. In that way, I'm hopeful. It's a huge step in the right direction. Maybe people won't have to hide anymore. Openly gay or atheist politicians! Acceptance of all. Wouldn't that be nice.

Now that the money's been spent and--hopefully--some of the rah-rah rhetoric dies down, we will see if Mr. Obama rolls up his sleeves and does something good for the world. He's certainly in the best position to do so.


Tess said...

UK and American relations are looking better too :) Gordon Brown actually smiled! Let's hope the war settles down now and more peace is restored.

Morandia said...

I'm amazed that everyone thinks this will be such a big change. Like the president actually has any serious power? GEEZ. As I expected there was rioting here in Jonesboro- minor,but still.... I love the "history making" aspect - like McCain/Palin wouldn't have been? a woman vice-president? hehe. People are silly.

We'll see what happens. I'm not expecting any major changes - even with a democrat majority in congress as well. I would like to see us out of Iraq completely though - and Afghanistan too - but that's just my personal view. Problem is, economy sucks, so having that many people come back - how are we going to employ them when we can't even employ the ones who are still here??? /sigh

Derek said...

I was actually surprised Obama won, knowing how conservative and traditional most of America is. I was pleased with the result - it will be interesting to see if he does actually move the country in a different direction - I hope so! However, at work yesterday, my manager and I had a look at the "results" map on the BBC website. Basically, it showed that the vast swathe of land stretching from the SE coast up into the western heartland was mostly Republican red - the geography following the 'Bible Belt', and the industrial NE and West Coast Blue for Democratic. So unsurprising results really. I think the republicans were fighting a losing battle, after two miserable terms of Bush, and then having an elderly and uninspiring candidate with 'hockey mom' Sarah Palin as backup (not bad to look at, but when she opens her mouth it all goes downhill.)

Morandia said...

I love the Palin comment Derek... Honeslty, she is why I voted Obama. I was afraid McCain might not live out his term - and the idea of having HER as president *SHUDDER*

and yes, it was the east and west coasts that got Obama elected. The south, midwest and central north did not vote for him... but those are all more rural areas, so low population - which means no electorial votes to worry about. The election comes down to the 13 colonies, Florida, California, and maybe Texas. Sad really - and the electorial votes aren't even based on the popular vote in the states. The delegates can vote however they want. The American people don't elect a president. They seem to think they do,but they have no say really.

Anna Down Under said...

I'm not proud to be an American because of an accident of birth. America has its fair share of problems to be sure. American Politics certainly have left me nothing to be proud of in the last 8 years. But when I say my heart and soul is still in America, I'm not talking about its political system.

I'm talking about the people of America. Say what you will about the government, there are a lot of really GOOD people in America, people who band together in times of crisis and help out their neighbors. The months after 9/11 showed that, and there are plenty of other examples. The truly good and decent people of America, some of whom I grew up with, are the unsung heroes who give what little they have to help others in times of need. THEY are what I'm proud of and part of why I feel disconnected being so far away. I was raised with a sense of pride in being American, and I won't abandon that because of bad decisions made by our government. I'm hopeful for a brighter future for America.

I love my husband and I enjoy living in Australia. I've been here 5 years now and I still can't say I understand their political system (or their football LOL). But being in another country means I get to see the view of America from another perspective, and it sometimes saddens me that they judge us on George Bush, Jerry Springer, celebrities and other such nonsense they see on the boob tube. There's a whole lot more to America than that.

And while I'm proud that we finally have shown you don't have to fit the stereotype to be President, I can assure you I didn't vote for him because he was black. I believed he was clearly the better candidate, which is the only reason you should vote for someone really.

Carla said...

That's all fine, but I'm still not proud to be an American. I'm neither proud nor ashamed. I just happen to be one. And now I'm British as well.

There are good people everywhere, I'd like to count myself among them. There's nothing about Americans that makes me feel especially proud, but there are some things that make feel a bit embarrassed. That's just me, that's how I feel.

In many ways, I feel more at home in Britain than I ever did in America, even though I also feel foreign over here...though not as much as I used to.

I would never renounce my American citizenship as it's too valuable a commodity to lose, but I don't know that I'll ever move back there. Who knows, though.

Anna Down Under said...

That's OK Carla, you're entitled to your opinion. You said you were grateful to have been born in the Western world because "that's where the good life is" -- that's no accident. A lot of good people fought to protect our freedom and our way of life. Some gave their lives to protect it, and I am definitely proud of them.

Maybe we just have different ideas of what it means to be proud, and maybe you think pride is a bad thing. It can be if it makes people arrogant. You can find arrogant people in any country, including America, but I don't think that applies to most Americans. At least not the people I know and love -- and miss very much.

I'm very glad you're feeling at home in England -- sometimes I feel at home here, too. Other times I feel out of place. I've no plans to move back either, but I definitely miss my life back home and my friends and family terribly.

Carla said...

Well, the definition of proud is:

'feeling self-respect or pleasure in something by which you measure your self-worth' (Princeton wordnet).

So in that sense I cannot say I am proud to be an American. I do not measure my self-worth by it. And that's what I mean by the word.

However, if by proud you mean you admire the basic spirit of the American people, I can see that. On the other hand, the qualities you admire in Americans I can see in all of humanity, so I would say that I am proud to be a human being rather than to be an American. And I would never go so far as to imply that the affluence of the Western world is down to the American spirit because it is not. The west ruled the world long before there was an America. And it was the spirit that was born in western Europe that spawned America.

But anyway, enough of that. We'll just leave it at the fact that I'm not bothered about where I came from and don't know if I'll ever go back. I don't miss the life I left there, but of course I do miss my family.