Ordinary Time 31/Trinity 24 – Wednesday
It’s now something like 5am EST in the USA as I blog this. *YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!* And by now, unless you have been living under a rock or so far deep into the earth’s crust, you would have heard who won the US Presidential Elections. *MIND-LESS CHANTS! MIND-LESS CHANTS!*
I’ve done my best to avoid posting too much on the once-every-2-years political pageantry that’s been the US Presidential race. *YES WE WILL! YES WE WILL!* It seems like I’ve succeeded because I think I only ever blogged once on it, in January 2008. *BART-LETT-PEARS! BART-LETT-PEARS!* Those who watched the Monday, November 3 2008 edition [click here to watch] of The Colbert Report would get the joke.
And yes folks, I am a proud member of THE COLBERT NATION! And from afar, I was supporting the Obama ticket from the beginning (all I needed was a Obama campaign t-shirt to display my allegiance though those are hard to find down here in Brisbane, QLD, Australia).
Anyhoo, most of us at work today were curious as to who would get it. I’d check periodically at the NY Times presidential election map every now and again and by about 2:45pm, it was becoming clear to me who would win.
Looking at the map now, jeez, I never imagined Missouri (McCain 49.5%, 1,442,577 vs Obama 49.3% 1,436,724), North Carolina (McCain 49.6% 2,089,826 vs Obama 49.8% 2,101,986) or Indiana (McCain 49.0% 1,329,370 vs Obama 49.9% 1,352,356) would be that close.
Seeing Virginia and Florida fall into the Obama camp was startling (VA had me worried for a few hours with the polls there being incredibly close until probably the last 30% of votes to count). When Pennsylvania was retained by the Democrats, I already knew that it was virtually a death-knell for the McCain-Palin ticket.
But jeez, the comparison with the 2004 map was startling. The Democrats picked up Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Indiana (a huge gain there even though it was a close result), Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina (another huge gain despite the close result) and Florida. Seeing the results in the Congressional elections too emphasized the somewhat of a landslide that went to the Democrats.
Gaining 5 extra seats in the US Senate (with a further 4 undecided as yet) and a further 18 in the House (with 10 House seats still undecided) gives the Democrats control over everything in the US federal political system. But given the propensity of US Congressmen and Senators to buck the party line (and be a maverick!) in line with the views of the constituents they represent, it only brings a little more comfort and hope that legislative work will be easier now (unlike here in Australia where the party line is followed assiduously).
Senator McCain was as usual gracious and dignified in defeat. He still garners my admiration for his years of public service to the United States (both in military and civil service). However, I do worry about Governor Palin if she ends up going for the ticket in 2012 (she did not impress me with her “experience” and knowledge of world and domestic events frankly – the fake Sarkozy radio prank didn’t help matters either [as if a French president would speak English! Sacrebleu! *said tongue-in-cheek*).
Hearing the crowd however that gathered at McCain’s election night rally when he congratulated Senator Obama and formally conceding defeat did not help matters either. It makes me wonder whether the GOP deliberately tries to reach out and stir up the basest, almost animalistic instincts amongst those who vote that way (the outcries at the Palin rallies made me shake my head in sadness at how lowbrow people can go). Somehow, respect and dignity in losing an election don’t seem to be words that the average Republican voter understands – you can be unhappy about the result but still not “BOOOOOOO!!!!!” when your candidate is trying their darndest to concede with a measure of dignity, class and integrity.
Obama’s acceptance speech was not a wild, happy clappy one. Nooo. It was thought out, somewhat sombre, fully acknowledging the great responsibilities his administration would have on their plate from day one. He definitely attempted to reach out to Republicans alongside Democrats. It was an acceptance speech that inspires much hope, from my vantage point on the other side of the world, of the United States of America coming back to being a reasoned, temperant and thoughtful world leader that exercises her power not by hegemony, fear and militarism alone (as the last eight years have primarily been). But instead, she would exercise her power primarily in seeking to persuade others to do what is right and have empathy, courtesy and last but not least, humility in exercising her tremendous power (no matter how tainted and terrible she looks now). And only if all other options fail and are exhausted, for military force to then be used.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the Obama-Biden adminstration will bring over the next four years compared to the last eight that we’ve had under the Bush-Cheney administration. Here’s hoping no stuff ups like back in 2000 over the next few weeks. President Bush has my prayers in the last few weeks of his administration and now, President-Elect Obama and Vice President-Elect Biden have mine too. The same goes for all of their families too as well as for the entire country.