I never thought I would find myself saying this, but today, I would like to take a page from America’s history.
I am not about to comment on how world politics will change now that Obama has been elected president. I have witnessed enough elections, and enough disappointments to know better, to know that no matter who is elected as president of the United States, my beloved region will not fair any better (though often, could fair much worse… Iraq anyone?)
What I am moved by today, what I am awed by, is evidence, this living proof that change is possible. That the overwhelmingly dominant right-wing, prejudiced, capitalist tide that has washed over the world can actually be turned. I am moved to tears to witness that the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the frequently apathetic stood up to be counted, and used what little power they are afforded as citizens to prove the old adage true, ‘every drop in the bucket counts’, and today, it runneth over.
So before you cynically question my excitement, as a distant Arab, at the outcome of this election, let me just point out that all things aside, this is a socio-political milestone that we will refer to for years and years to come as shorthand for the possibility of change.
And now to the man himself – I think there are many more people out there far brighter and well-versed in political analysis than me to offer their views on him as a candidate. I will leave that job to them. There are two specific parts that I want to point to in his victory speech that moved me deeply :
“And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”
“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?”
I probably don’t need to explain why I was moved by these statements, but bear with me as I elaborate – I feel I need to express it. As I said earlier, this election did not echo just because it happened in America, but because all of us everywhere yearning for change in our systems, our own governments or regimes, could not help but stop to reflect and compare. Can you imagine a leader, winning by a landslide, recognizing and admitting that he has arrived to serve all and not just those who supported him? That he has arrived not to turn the tables in favour of his like-minded? Not to take advantage of his new position to break down voters who disagreed with him? I had almost forgotten that that was possible.
And can you imagine a leader, a world leader, finally rising to look beyond his nose out onto the horizon and consider what role his 4 years need to play as a building block for the 96 to follow? The ceiling that was bearing down on us for so many years, keeping our gazes directed at our feet and our daily bread, delicately cracked to attract our sights to the sky.
There will be ordeals to address tomorrow, there will be critiques and criticism… but I will be high on today’s events for some time. I will be clinging to the audacity of hope…