[Guardian Unlimited, U.K.]



El Diario de Yaracuy, Venezuela

Obama: Transcendent Change from the Lowest to the Highest


"From now on, poor young people the world over - even those abandoned by their fathers - are aware that it's not an impossible dream to climb the highest peak. Si se puede. Yes we can."


By Moises Naim


Translated By Paula van de Werken


November 5, 2008


Venezuela - El Diario de Yaracuy - Original Article (Spanish)

Front page of El Diario de Yaracuy, November 5, 2008. It reads 'Challenges for the President'


BBC NEWS VIDEO: The planet reacts to Obama's victory, Nov. 5, 00:04:09RealVideo

None of it turned out to be true. Today, we know that God, racism, and accepted beliefs were not the key issues of these elections. They were pushed aside by the economic crisis, the personal history of the candidates, the failure of George W. Bush, and the advanced use of the Internet as a source of funding, disseminating the message and recruiting activists.


Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain referred to God in their speeches or advertisements as much as their predecessors during previous elections - or as much as their rivals did in the party primaries. The leaders of the most powerful religious-right political machine in America were less influential in these elections than they had been for decades. Its high point came with the imposition of Sarah Palin as a candidate for the vice presidency and who immediately inserted God into her speeches. She explained, for example, that U.S. soldiers go to Iraq to carry out "God's Word," and who, according to her, “has a definite plan” in this regard. But while this type of message was common in the past, in this campaign it had been banished. God was banished from this election campaign.


Racism, too, was banished. A Black man, the son of an immigrant with no fortune, can with only talent and hard work win the presidency of the United States. The color of his skin was not the insurmountable obstacle that the entire world thought would destroy Obama's political career. Does this mean that there is no racism in the United States and that the color of Obama's skin played no role whatsoever in the election? Absolutely not. But the fact is that for millions of his U.S. supporters, Obama's race was less important than other factors. This is more surprising to the rest of the world than it is to the people of the United States. It was always more difficult to predict an Obama victory for a British person who knows how far his country remains from electing the son of a Pakistani as Prime Minister, or for a Spaniard who knows what a long way to go there is before the descendent of a Moroccan moves into Moncloa [the Presidential Palace], or for a Japanese who knows how impossible it would be for the son of a Korean to be put in charge of the government. From this perspective, for a Black man to become President of the United States was simply unimaginable. This tells us more about the racism that exists in the rest of the world than that which still persists in the United States.


'We could care less who wins as long as Bush goes!'

[El Universal, Mexico]


Neither did ideas do well in these U.S. elections. At a time when the world has lost its fundamental anchors in the economy, geopolitics, society or the environment, neither McCain nor Obama stood out for originality in terms of the ideas that were the basis of their electoral proposals. In this campaign, ideas weren't too important in terms of defining the results. Obama and McCain did everything possible to differentiate their proposals, and in many ways their proposals are different. But the country paid no attention. Very few voters know what the differences are between their economic policies or how their proposals to reform the health system differ, or what their differing approaches to China might be. 



Slogans and sound bites are the norm in elections everywhere. What is rare are elections that feature in-depth discussions of proposals. But as important as they are, policy proposals are always more boring than talk of personality, character and the lives of the candidates. What proposal can possibly compete with kitchen-table conversations about the spectacular stories of McCain and Obama? Or with the story of Palin skinning moose in Alaska?


The 2008 U.S. elections introduced many novelties - from the unforeseen ascension of candidates that don't need to rely on the support of party traditional elites to the enormous number of innovations that use the Internet as an instrument for organizing political activity. Naturally, the most transcendent change of all is Barack Obama. And this change will not only impact the United States. From now on, poor young people the world over - even those abandoned by their fathers - are aware that it's not an impossible dream to climb the highest peak. Si se puede. Yes we can.




















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 5, 5:59pm]