Copyright Andrea Nay 2008
So he did it. Barack Hussein Obama, got elected as the 44th President of the USA. I have been an early fan of his, but then, who isn't? He speaks cogently, makes his points clearly and ran a squeaky clean campaign, inspite of the best efforts of the Republicans to malign it. Actually, I like McCain too. Yes, he has plenty of bad points, but I liked him for the fact that he had enough spine to oppose the recent financial bailout (at least initially) and disagree with his supporters when they try to boo his opponent. Unfortunately, he's an okay candidate in an atrociously morally corrupted political party.
It is amazing that the original Republican Party, which stood for individualism, free trade and minimal government, becomes the homestead of religious loonies, greedy lobbying groups, war-mongering nutjobs and what not. Actually, there are better people for the top post, in my opinion - Ron Paul, for example. He's a true Republican, in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, Americans are not in a mood to listen to any Republican, and rightly so. When there is no voice of reason within a party which can contain an administration careening so out of control, it's time to send them a message. And thankfully, Americans did so.
Sure, having Obama might mean more regulation, having more of a welfare state, and probably more taxes. I think, most Americans are ready to make that trade-off for a peaceful existence. De-regulation, free markets and less government spending are admirable goals, and every democracy should make continuous efforts towards these goals if they are to be able to compete with the rest of the world. But that doesn't mean you kick down the small guy. Or let the greedy and evil people run amok.
As much of a rabid fan of capitalism (of the Ayn Rand variety, no less) I am, I do think we have a responsiblity to create a social safety net. Because there is no joy in having a ton of money and realizing that there are millions of people who have to live for a week on what you're spending on a single dinner. I would be that much less human if I can afford corporate hospital care and my compatriots cannot go to a primary health care center. I'm all for free enterprise, but we all have a responsiblity to make sure it doesn't become greed at the cost of the little guy.
Because, I believe that it's possible to create an open, tolerant and prosperous society where everybody gets a chance to become somebody. Your wealth need not be the source of envy, it might be the engine that creates more wealth and opportunities for others who are less fortunate. I think that is what gives the most fulfillment, anyways. As they say, you're not gonna take it all with you - you might as well make others a wee bit more comfortable. And trust me, rich kids almost always turn out to be disappointments. They never know what it takes to be worthy of their fortune. And you don't want to have kids like that. Earn all you want, but give away as much as you can.
Anyways, the point is, Barack Obama in many ways might be the lesser of the evils, but you should also realize that he's the best hope we've got. A leader is not just about being a great policy wonk, but also somebody who can inspire his people and prod them into taking hard decisions and being better people (remember his speech about black fathers not taking enough responsibility?). I probably can never be the guy who campaigns so much that I'm oblivious to the fact that the soles of my shoes have worn off. But he is. He might not be perfect, but his heart is in the right place, he works hard and he's willing to listen, and I'm sure he'll learn fast. That is more than what you can ask for in modern politicans.
So please, join me in welcoming President Obama, and thank you America, for showing us that however audacious hope might be, there is always a chance that it will come true.