Cowart's Common Room
A Sigh of Relief

This morning I was driving over the Malahat on my way home from another short business trip. As I approached home, and saw the city and the harbour in the distance I had an overwhelming feeling - I felt as though the world had breathed a sigh of relief at the election of Barak Obama. The last time I had a 'world' feeling like that was after Sept 11, 2001, when I realized that the whole world was holding its breath. This morning the feeling was wonderful - as though we'd stepped back from the brink of something frightening.
I have lived in the US twice and had a really good experience both times. The US experience, the US dream always attracted me - the energy of the people, the melting pot, the individulism, the sense of fairness that I always encountered. As I've said before - we in Canada are acutely aware of the 'state of the Union' and things haven't been comfortable since '01 and the paranoia fostered by GWB and his gang. But yesterday - the American people showed the world that their democracy works and that they are more interested in fairness, freedom and equality than in the old boys' club of isolationism and exclusion.

Posted at 6th Nov 2008 - 02:29AM   Posted by Pondside   A Sigh of Relief Comments: 21

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Ivy's Avatar May he live to fulfil at least one of the promises he has given to the American citizens and the rest of the world. I am always very sceptical if a person is praised like he is, before they even started to do some work. Anybody would have been better than GWB but he got elected at least once... The problem with politics is: It is never the people you vote fo,r who make the real decisions but the people in the background.

May I ask you a very provocative question? If the colour of his skin is so important isn't that am matter of racism too? should he not rather be judged by who he is and what he does, rather than what he looks like? First coloured President of the US makes him some sort of alien in my eyes. But maybe I, as a German, am too sensitive if it comes to these matters.

Posted by: Ivy on 6th Nov 2008 at 07:50AM

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Unpeuloufoque's Avatar I thought his acceptance speech was gracious expecially to mr oven chip man.....heart went out to white house staff though.. all that expensive antique furniture and carpets and a new puppy to be toilet trained....do hope he gets a dog from teh pound and not a pedegree mutt.

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 6th Nov 2008 at 07:55AM

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Ivy's Avatar It's not the first First Dog that needed to be puppy trained in the white house. I am rather worried about the kids, they won't be able to go anywhere without bodyguards during their entire youth. But then so did others before them .

Posted by: Ivy on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:00AM

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Pondside's Avatar Well he won't be the first president with children and a puppy!

Ivy, the colour of his skin is very important. Perhaps as a European, coming from a place where someone of a different skin colour can be seen not to belong - not a real German, not a real Dane, not a real Frenchman - it might be difficult to understand a country that is built on immigration - where belonging comes from citizenship, but where for over 300 years no person other than a caucasian has ever been elected to the hightest office. It is only a generation since people of colour were not allowed to drink from the same water fountain, stay in the same hotel or ride in a bus seat beside a caucasian. So, no, I don't think it's racist to celebrate the fact that the citizens of the United States have had the courage to elect an African American as president.

Posted by: Pondside on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:01AM

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Pondside's Avatar Meant to say - that no matter what the colour of his skin, if he wasnt' someone that appealed to so many - if so many didn't believe what he espouses he wouldn't have been elected.

Posted by: Pondside on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:02AM

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Cait's Avatar Please read my blog Ivy, you will see why I think his colour is important now. It won't be mentioned soon because it shouldn't matter, of course it shouldn't ......but Obama is the first to make his way through the colour 'bar' that most definitely blighted many generations. That is why his skin colour/race IS so important in his election as leader.

Posted by: Cait on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:15AM

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Unpeuloufoque's Avatar Puppy thing was a joke.. I do not think any preseident has not had a dog, ok can someone check that?!! Colour is important though in America and so is ethnic origin to Americans. People refer to themselves as Irish American, Black American, dutch american , etc etc and not the other way around...The fact that he has not come from the traditional political dynasty is a big step and if he is proud to be black American or half black American then that is enough for me.

Posted by: Unpeuloufoque on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:24AM

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Jackofall's Avatar This article, 5 reasons why Obama won the election, makes very enlightening reading. I have to say that living in France as immigrants from the UK, I personally have not kept up at all with world news and politics - not so much head in the sand as not directly affected as we used to be in the UK - but reading through the reasons made me wonder why on earth McCain got as many votes as he did. I guess they mostly came from the rich, the racist and the gung-ho sections of American society.

Posted by: Jackofall on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:28AM

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Do you think he'd like a labradog pup?Laughing Very cute and full of gorgeousness...........

Posted by: @themill on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:39AM

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Westerwitch's Avatar I think we can all dare to hope again. It is as though the darkness that has slowly strangling the world has been dealt a blow and has receded.

No @themill and before you even think of it NO he wouldn't like a slightly older dog Milla and why is that air mail package wriggling like that . . .hemmmmmm.

Posted by: Westerwitch on 6th Nov 2008 at 09:22AM

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Fennie's Avatar Re: the old boys club. Yes, it does seem that those that voted for McCain - or where McCain had his only majority - were male, white and older voters. Obama had majorities among female, black, Hispanic, younger and immigrant voters. I watched Obama's ' citizen of the world' Berlin speech last week (Google Obama, Berlin). Most impressive in saying all those things that concern Europeans.

Among Europeans Obama was massively more popular than McCain. What American Presidents do affects us in Europe very much, yet we have no vote.

Posted by: Fennie on 6th Nov 2008 at 09:28AM

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Mountainear's Avatar Beautifully put Pondside. I too sense elation and optimism. (I wonder if the 46% (?) of the voters who voted for McCain feel the same or if they are feeling glum?)

I truly hope Obama can make his presidency work - he has some major issues on his plate.

Posted by: Mountainear on 6th Nov 2008 at 09:29AM

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Elizabethm's Avatar I do so agree pondside. This is a pivotal moment and he has the chance to change many things in the world which is a rare privilege. I heard his acceptance speech and he does not underestimate the difficulties ahead. A rare orator too. I also thought mccain's speech was a gracious one. Let us see what obama can do. Certainly he has much goodwill across the world but the expectations are frighteningly high. I wish him all the luck in the world.

Posted by: Elizabethm on 6th Nov 2008 at 10:16AM

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Elizabethm's Avatar I do so agree pondside. This is a pivotal moment and he has the chance to change many things in the world which is a rare privilege. I heard his acceptance speech and he does not underestimate the difficulties ahead. A rare orator too. I also thought mccain's speech was a gracious one. Let us see what obama can do. Certainly he has much goodwill across the world but the expectations are frighteningly high. I wish him all the luck in the world.

Posted by: Elizabethm on 6th Nov 2008 at 10:25AM

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Ivy's Avatar Pondside we have policemen with Vietnamese roots, members of parliament with Turkish background and teachers that are far darker than Mr. Obama all German citizens and valued members of our society and yet if one of them would become Budeskanzler there would be an uproar from the far right. I do understand that it is a sort of triumph for black people to vote for a black president but I don't think it is the right reason to judge anybody by his or her skin colour.I think integrity ,honesty and the will to change injustice into justice are the reasons a person should be voted for I personally don't care if the person I vote for is purple has horns or blond hair as long as I can agree with his political position.

Posted by: Ivy on 6th Nov 2008 at 01:38PM

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Exmoorjane's Avatar I can hear what you're saying Ivy and I think it's true that many people voted for Obama without a clue about his policies - but purely because he was black. No, of course it shouldn't matter what colour a person is, but - as you point out so rightly - prejudice still exists all over the world, not just in the US, and for that reason alone we should celebrate his victory.
Yes, from what I've head McCain's supporters are pretty fed up - not because of his skin colour necessarily but because they don't agree with his policies. But then, you can understand that. I agree, EM, his speech was very gracious - would that all politics could mirror that.

Posted by: Exmoorjane on 6th Nov 2008 at 02:21PM

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Pondside's Avatar Too right, Ivy - skin colour alone is no reason to vote for someone - but neither is skin colour a reason not to vote for someone. I think it is easy to be critical of the jubilation over this huge 'first' when one is a member of the comfortable, recognizable majority. (and here I've gone out on a limb, as I have not idea whether or not you are a member of a minortiy in Germany, but have made the assumption, from your profile, that you aren't) I'd agree that those Germans with roots outside of the west probably have lots of opportunity in Germany but I'd argue that they will never be seen as full citizens. Having lived in Germany for 10 years I came to speak the language with fluency but always with an accent - that coupled with my black hair often resulted in my being mistaken for Turkish or some other eastern nationality - not a comfortable thing and sometimes even frightening, depending on the circumstance. (that said, I loved my time in your country and have returned many times) For those Americans who aren't caucasion this election symbolises belonging - I heard one commentator say just that yesterday - sharing in the America dream.

When all was said and done, it was Mr Obama's vision, eloquence and view on economics, defense etc that got him elected - and that's the reason for real celebration.

Posted by: Pondside on 6th Nov 2008 at 02:48PM

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Withy Brook's Avatar I agree with that last statement of yours, Pondside. He was elected on his vision etc. The celebration was because someone who was trans colour could be elected.

Posted by: Withy Brook on 6th Nov 2008 at 08:57PM

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Cait's Avatar Yes Withy you have it in a nutshell!

Posted by: Cait on 7th Nov 2008 at 12:03AM

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I, like many people who voted here, cast my vote for Obama because he is an intelligent, global-thinking, humble man who will not be too proud to listen to the advice of others and seems to have no axe to grind. The fact that he is African and American makes my heart sing. Did I vote for him on the basis of his ethinicity? I don't think so, but it is definitely a plus.

Posted by: Expatmum on 7th Nov 2008 at 04:36AM

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LittleBrownDog's Avatar Very interesting discussion and lots of valid points, but for me one of the most amazing and wonderful things about Obama's election is the fact that when he was born, black people didn't even have the vote in America. It's easy to forget how recently that was.

Posted by: LittleBrownDog on 7th Nov 2008 at 10:38AM

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