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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well whaddaya know...

Hmmm...apparently optimism and hope do still exist on American soil.

I stayed up after class last night to watch the polls roll in and hear the speeches. McCain and Obama were both gracious and kind, but what really impressed me was seeing the lines of voters...the polar opposite of our Canadian election a few weeks ago. It really filled me with emotion to see so many different people from so many walks of life caring about their country...feeling like maybe there was a chance they could fix things... to see individuals feel like their voice counted and that they were a part of making their country better...it honestly brought tears to my eyes. It was inspiring to hear the end of Obama's speech and know he really realises what he's in for...that he is inspiring his whole country to change. Hearing him ask everyone to help...the very fact that his motto for the campaign was "yes we can" is a fundamental change in attitude for the American public.
My beef about modern man is his ability to isolate himself and put himself first. If we have any hope for our future and little ones like my new niece Zoe, there has to be a shift in attitude...a return to a sense of community and doing things for the greater good. We can't hole ourselves up and look after number one and hope it will get better...we did that. Look where it got us? Greed and selfishness built up faulty loans that fed our greed and resulted in the world economy falling to it's knees. We're all falling together...and I really believe that unless the whole world bands together to try and address our future we will fail. We have seen first hand what greed and selfish oppression gets us. We have to learn from our mistakes or we will burn like Rome, and those we have failed will delight in our fall...dooming themselves in the process.

In the past I heard songs like "the spark that bled" and would think "why don't we do things differently? When did apathy and the hunt fro an impossible selfish life become the accepted way to live? How did we become so resigned to things being a different way?"

I accidentally touched my head and noticed that I had been bleeding
For how long I didn't know
What was this, I thought, that struck me?
What kind of weapons have they got?
The softest bullet ever shot
I stood up and I said, yeah!

I stood up and I said, yeah!
I stood up and I said, hey! Yeah!
From this moment on blaring like a trumpet

Coming from above us and somewhere below
The confidence of knowing descending to relieve us of the struggle to believe it's so
I stood up and I said, yeah!

I spoke up and I said, hey!
I stood up and I said, hey! Yeah!
And it seemed to cause a chain reaction

It had momentum, it was gaining traction
It was all the rage, it was all the fashion
The outreached hands had resigned themselves to holding onto something that they never had...and that's too bad
'Cause in reality there was no reaction
(The spark that bled - Flaming Lips)

Like the 60s, there seems to be a resurgence in the need and desire for change - An unjust war on foreign soil...a younger generation questioning why thing are the way they are when they only benefit some. There is a whole generation coming up who've seen the bullshit of the baby boomer era and they want something different. My generation just sort of whined about how sucky it was and grunged our way into electronic distractions, expecting others to do the work for us.

This election gives me hope seeing the desire for change come up from a new generation and spreading out into the general population. What was a dream of the young and innocently optimistic has spread to the rest of us.

I feel we are all the better for it. I hope this will carry forward and everyone will feel the responsibility to work at change.

I sincerely believe this will not be a sound and fury signifying nothing. When people unite for a common cause and put each other before themselves, things will change. We may not *have* more, but we will be united. We will care for each other and the respect and dignity that will arise will make our lives and our communities better.

I have to believe this...it's how I live my life. I'm inspired to think that maybe, just maybe, other people think the same thing...and maybe it *will* get better...

10 comments:

Rimshot said...

Well said. But haven't we always risen or fallen on our own actions? I just don't see how today is any different than yesterday. "Me first" will (sadly, VERY sadly) win out, I fear. Those that are willing to sacrifice for a greater good are a rare minority who's voice is drowned out by the roar of "What's in it for me?"

That said, I hope to GOD you're right and I'm wrong.

MaCanuck said...

RE: Election Turnout. This is not the first time I've heard Canadians either patting the Americans on the back for election turnouts and dissing our own, but I'd like to point out that in the 1958 election, the turnout in Canada was 79.4% and in 1960, the turnout for the American election was 63%, the highest it has been in the last 50 years.

On the other hand, the lowest turnout in Canadian elections was this year, at 59.1 %. Only three times in the last 50 years (1960, 64 and 68) has America has a *higher* turnout than Canada's lowest turnout.

This year might be the first time in...ever, possibly, where the American turnout is higher than the Canadian turnout in elections within two years of each other. We'll have to see.

Don't read into that any sort of jingoism or political commentary. I'm just tossing out some numbers.

Peter T Chattaway said...

...the very fact that his motto for the campaign was "yes we can" is a fundamental change in attitude for the American public.

Really? I'm pretty sure George W. Bush had a "yes we can" attitude when he set out to democratize the Middle East. I mean, he wouldn't have sent so many troops -- or so few, depending on what you made of his strategy -- if he hadn't believed that he could achieve what he wanted to achieve there.

I agree that there's something kind of cool about the son of a British subject rising from obscurity to win the White House. But all those cultural-identity issues kind of fade next to questions of policy, etc. And already, I hear people celebrating over how Obama will supposedly "end the war", when in fact he was promising a troop surge in Afghanistan just the other day. Things are going to get interesting once Obama starts making actual decisions.

Geosomin said...

My comments had nothing to do with cultural identity - that Obama is african american is neither here nor there for me really (altho I'm sure it matters more to many people). I was commenting more on the fact that the general Joe public seems to actually feel that they are able to help change their country - that there is hope. The yes we can, referred to the people working together to actually make a difference...positive change.
True, the proof is in the pudding when it comes down to having to deal with the actual issues...but having the public willing to make changes, likely some difficult ones, to rebuild their economy and their sense of cummunity and dignity is a good start to that.

Peter T Chattaway said...

But that's just it: George W. Bush ran as a uniter-not-a-divider after the Clinton years. And Clinton ran on a platform of "change" after the Reagan-Bush years. And we all know how those presidencies turned out, at least in the public imagination.

I cannot look at the euphoria many are feeling around Obama right now without thinking back to the ecstasy that followed Tony Blair when he was elected in 1997, and that scene in The Queen -- a film that came out shortly before Blair gave in to pressure to resign -- in which the Queen reminds Blair that the public can be very fickle.

If the Republicans don't bounce back soon, the way they did in 1994, it will be because they are fragmented, divided and/or lacking in vision, just as conservatives were in Canada and Britain throughout most of the 1990s. It won't be because the 53% of the voters who chose Obama have "united" the country.

Oh, somewhat off-topic, but one interesting irony: It is reported that Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California, passed by a narrow margin partly because there was a strong turnout of black voters, who voted 9-to-1 in favour of it (whereas the Hispanic vote was split, and the white vote was against it). It's kind of funny to see all these liberals celebrating the energization of the black vote while also lamenting the setback in this other area. But that's politics for you.

grapecat said...

Peter - GWB did run on that platform, but instantly abandoned it the second he was "elected". And Clinton DID change a lot after the Reagan years - set aside your ideology and think of the national debt for a start.

And yes, Blair was a gigantic disappointment on so many levels, and of course the fear is there that this could be similar, but Blair is a different sheep - he was one of the establishment from the beginning, the only boundaries broken when electing him were party - a better comparison would probably be Clinton.

You know, people are celebrating the amazing fact of electing a person who, historically in that country, couldn't vote, let alone be president. It's not about the "black vote". That is a very duplicitous argument. There is, constitutionally, a separation between state and church. Long may it continue.

Peter T Chattaway said...

GWB did run on that platform, but instantly abandoned it the second he was "elected".

"Instantly"? How? 9/11 took place several months after he took office, and of course, it "changed everything". But before then?

More significantly, Bush has annoyed many conservatives by out-liberalling the liberals in some respects -- by giving free prescription drugs to all seniors, for example, and by spending like there's no tomorrow, in general.

And yes, Bush was elected, not "elected". Again, we encounter an irony: the recounts demanded by Gore gave the election to Bush, but the wider recounts demanded by some Republicans would have given the election to Gore, if I recall correctly.

Ah well. I'm just glad that Obama won by a large-enough margin that we won't have to endure years of accusations of "voter fraud", etc. It sucked when it came from the left, and it would have sucked if it had come from the right.

And Clinton DID change a lot after the Reagan years - set aside your ideology and think of the national debt for a start.

Actually, I did. That was partly why I referred to the Republican comeback of 1994. Would Clinton have been so cautious, economically, if he had been working with a Democrat Congress? Doubtful.

Alas, when Republicans won the White House in 2000 and had the whole show to themselves, they blew it. They really blew it.

You know, people are celebrating the amazing fact of electing a person who, historically in that country, couldn't vote, let alone be president.

Sure. And at least some of them would have been celebrating if Palin had been elected vice-president, too. Because black men did get the vote before women of any colour did, after all.

But it would feel odd to be celebrating an historical footnote, in either case. Obama's skin colour, and the fact that one of his parents came from Kenya, really shouldn't matter. Celebrating it comes across as a way of saying it does matter. Like I say, I'd rather focus on the issues.

Rimshot said...

Non-land owners and women could not (historically) vote either, and I don't hear any uproar that renters can now vote.

There is not now nor ever been a "separation of church and state". You will not find that anywhere in the politcal doctrine.

National Debt, without some sort of referencing factor (such as GDP or GNP) is a meaninless number.

Geosomin said...

It is a deep moral shame that despite the progressive actions of the US in the whole area of racial acceptance, homophobia is still rampant and accepted. I am troubled at how the California and other states voted to prevent gay marriages...quite specifically that they are now annulling and revoking the marraige unions of homosexuals who were already legally married. The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. And really...there are much more important things to worry about.
If someone told me I was no longer married because there was a public vote that decided so...I really don't know what I'd do. I like to hope that their vows were just as sincere as the ones I made when I got married.
It is nice to see that at least in some areas, there can be change...you have to start somewhere.

grapecat said...

sorry- I've been out :)
Yes instantly - one of the first things GWB did was revoke funding for any organisation working overseas that mentioned abortion. Yes, mentioned - not provided - mentioned. We're still seeing the blowback of that, as many agencies lost funding that did important work not connected particularly ie midwifes, birth control, women and girls health etc.
Rimshot -
"The separation of church and state is a legal and political principle derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ." The phrase "separation of church and state", which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists, where Jefferson spoke of the combined effect of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. It has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.[1]"
quoted from wikipedia - (I know - not a source, but handy)
You're probably right that the point about national debt needs better definition, but I am coming from the general idea that under Clinton, the deficit became surplus, and that under GWB, it has sunk to the bottom of the economic sea.