The news of Barak Obama’s election victory, inevitable as it has seemed for weeks, if not for months, has barely sunk in. Commentators as diverse as George Bush and The Reverend Jessie Jackson are agreed about one thing – Americans (and I am now one) should be proud of themselves for electing an African-American as leader of the USA. It is historical. It is a proud moment for the people of the USA and shows they are looking to the future with optimism, not the past with cynicism.
But the significance of Obama’s victory goes far beyond what it means for the position of African-Americans in society, or for what it means for the rest of American society, significant as those things are. His victory brings to an end an era that began with Ronald Reagan, remained largely unchanged during the Bush senior and Clinton years, and has been relied on entirely under George W Bush. That is an era in which fear of internal and external enemies, or of cultural difference dominated the political discourse and atomized and paralyzed the American electorate. These were the years in which there was thought to be a Conservative majority, albeit a silent one. An era in which big bold optimistic ideas were frowned upon. An era in which the population as a whole was given the role of passive agent, living our lives, safe in the knowledge that we were protected by an all-powerful government.
America has been re-booted, with a new operating system. The past was a PC, Obama is a Mac. He is clever, attractive, well put together, desirable, optimistic, and many other good things. Above all else he is wanted – by Americans, by foreigners, by the world as a whole it seems. And he has unleashed and become a focus for the power of the people. Americans now officially care and are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. Optimism is Wired – Fear is Tired.
Obama’s movement has unleashed a bottoms up openness. The People can no longer be seen as a passive, fear-focused, manageable mob whose only job is to show up to vote every 4 years for the fear-monger in chief. The future will not look like the past. It will be better. There will be more thinking, more doing, more optimism and more real politics.
So… before I get too carried away I will end this piece by saying – YES! What a great feeling this is! At last we have an operating system that won’t keep crashing. It looks good. It feels good. I want it. And better still, it is crowd sourced!