The Clock Is Ticking

A few hours to go. By this time tomorrow we should know if Barack Obama is to become the next president of the United States.

I tend to be of the opinion, despite all the talk of this being a global election, that we should keep our noses out of the democratic processes of other countries.

This possibly applies especially to us Brits who often slip into insufferable superiority when we laugh at politicians from elsewhere. On this occasion we’re on even thinner ground because we’re sorely in need of figure like Obama to breathe some life into our own grassroots.

In saying that though I’m desperate to see Obama win. For a lot of reasons.

Firstly the reality of a black president seems so close now, unbelievably close, and I really didn’t think that would happen so quickly. Looking at Britain I wonder if we have a society, an electorate, ready for an achievement of that magnitude.

I personally feel that Obama’s big win came over Clinton. I don’t find McCain convincing – from what I see from over here much of his reputation is based on the past. This time round I think he’s been stilted and unprepared for the freshness his opponent has brought to the campaign.

The cynical misjudgement that led him to give Sarah Palin a place on the ticket might, when the final votes have been counted, be seen as the disastrous final act in a long political career. Had even met her? And does he really want to ride to the presidency beholden to the people who represent her natural constituency?

And, of course, there are benefits to the world focus on the election. Obama can enthuse people across the globe. He might be handed an opportunity that looked impossible two years ago: A leader of America who has both the intent and goodwill to make positive change elsewhere. A leader of the free world that we can all look to for leadership. That would be refreshing.

But expectation can go horribly pear shaped. An American president has very little time to actually be president, the electorate are always looming large in the Oval Office.

The inexperience that has actually become an asset in the campaign could still be shown to be a critical failing in office.

Then there are the practical problems. An Obama presidency is going to have a lot of opponents, swathes of the population will feel disenfranchised and they have the potential to be far more vocal and disruptive than the forgotten souls who felt Dubya had stolen the White House.

And, inescapably, there is an American economy built on sand, cowering from whatever tsunami will hit next. That might not make change impossible but it could make it unpleasant.

The weight of expectation can also weigh heavily, when you represent people’s dreams the adulation can quickly turn to bitterness.

But who goes for this job expecting an easy ride? My prediction is a close win for Obama, I think closer than many people expect,  and it will be nice to simply enjoy that for a time.  The nightmare might start soon enough, why don’t we just savour the dreams for now?

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One Response to The Clock Is Ticking

  1. Delighted says:

    Let the hard work start tomorrow. Let’s just enjoy this moment that so many of us never thought we’d see.

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