web 2.0

President Obama

Barack Hussein Obama

By Omar Ali

With thanks from wichaar.com 

Barack Hussein Obama has just been elected President of the United States in a historic election. Like so many million other Americans, I am thrilled at this event and I wanted to share a few personal thoughts with the Wichaar community.

I did a little volunteering for the Obama campaign and that gave me a chance to witness this extraordinary phenomenon at close range. Not only did this campaign mobilize more people than any campaign in American history, but the people who were mobilized were friendly, enthusiastic, fair-minded and diverse: Whites, Indians, Pakistanis, Christians, Muslims, people of every group joined in and felt a part of the American dream, many for the first time ever. Unlike the Republicans, who were running on a xenophobic and narrow-minded agenda, this was an inclusive, open minded and hopeful campaign and it was truly America at its best.

Now that the campaign is over, what should we expect in the future? I think there can be no doubt that Obama is extremely smart and his campaign was probably the best run campaign in history, so I have no doubt that he will be a very competent President and will pick good people and get them to do good work. Having said all that, I know he will be President of the United States, not some new socialist international revolutionary soviet; so I expect that the first people to jump OFF the bandwagon will be those on the far left. Others will no doubt follow.

Internationally, I don't expect him to dismantle the US empire (a term I use loosely, as it is not a classic empire in the way the British or the Arabs had an empire) . I think he really does have a post-imperial vision of the world, but I dont think we will get there in the next few years. I do hope he will be smarter than Bush in running foreign policy and will not go around publicly approving of torture and kidnapping. But not only will he not have the power to change everything, I think he is not even interested in changing everything in the way some may wish. He is a pragmatic and practical minded AMERICAN president and I dont think his core estimate of American interests is too far different from the vision of the smarter state department analysts.

Domestically, the biggest change is going to be the new, smart young people he will bring into the system. I think no matter what the ideology, when any system drags out some of the old junk and allows large numbers of new entrants to enter the establishment, some creative energy is unleashed. Thats what happens (in a very violent and chaotic manner) in classic revolutions and that's what can happen in a democracy without smashing too many heads. But I am not over-estimating the result. These new people will not unleash a revolution and some will make serious mistakes, but many will also bring creative new ideas to the table and he will be a leader who can mobilize the people behind new ideas. It will still be a change for the better.

Last but not the least, what a great symbolic victory for multiracial, multi-religious America. A triumph of classical liberalism and a great moment in history for that reason alone. It may be that immigrants other than the original Anglo-Saxon settlers of this land (starting with the Jews and the Italians and continuing with many others) and African Americans have taken the promises of America's constitution and its liberal foundations much more seriously than the average White settler (though one has to remember that these liberal ideals were put in place by some dead white males in the first place) and this trend continues. One can see that today in Indian Americans and a bit more slowly, even among Pakistani Americans (some of whom are finally beginning to shed their psychological resistance to America and their fascination with medieval Islamist visions, especially as their children grow up in America).

I think more of these people will get a chance to participate in the American establishment and their commitment to liberalism and the rule of law will be more sincere than that of the typical White Republican operative (who, consciously or unconsciously, may have had a racist agenda that undermined some of that commitment). I dont mean to offend ALL republicans, as I know there are some good ones out there. Anyway, I think that inclusiveness is another positive aspect of his victory. There will inevitably be some disappointment after this high, but I think its still a historic change and will lead to many good things in the future.


Add comment