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Thursday, 6 November 2008


The excitement surrounding Obama's victory reminds me of Tony Blair's landslide in 1997. I was there on 2 May when Whitehall was besieged by exuberant well-wishers. The mood stayed that way for some years and Tony Blair never lost an election. His government invested in the National Health Service, raised educational standards to the extent that upward social mobility is now improving and virtually eradicated unemployment.

Blair's landslide was, of course, due in large part to his belief in a better future and his personal charisma. It was also caused by the country being sick of Thatcher and Major and Tory sleaze. People desperately wanted a new dawn.

The same is very true of the Obama victory. The big themes of the Republican Party - tax cutting, outlawing abortion and supporting marriage - are no longer what Americans want. The Republicans were forced to select John McCain, a maverick with unorthodox views, because there was no electable mainstream candidate. McCain then chose Sarah Palin to appease the Republican base, and look where that got him.

America is also becoming less white. US Census Bureau figures indicate that by 2042 white Americans will be in a minority. Some cannier Republicans, notably Karl Rove, understood the electoral implications of this demographic change, which is why President G W Bush supported a liberal policy on immigration, almost certainly much against his instincts.

Even more significant is that not only is segregation dead, but an African-American had succeeded to the highest office in the land. I'm not sure whether this has really yet sunk in. It will transform politics not only in America, but across the world.

Barack Obama is an amazing individual. Bill Clinton was often referred to as an extraordinary American. Mr Obama is ahead even of Mr Clinton. I have a new feeling of optimism which has been lacking for some long time.


John said...

If he hadn't have won America we should have invited him over here.

His virtuous ideas are eloquently expressed and held for real. We are free to think again and have left the dark years of dispair behind. He has unleashed the intellectual energy and hope of millions.

We must learn.

sheila said...

Obama is a charismatic leader who had the vision to convince African-Americans that a black man could accede to the Presidency of the greatest global democracy.He is clearly an intellectual with inspirational oratorical skills. The Bush dream has become a nightmare but with a clear mandate from the American people, Obama can restore peace and prosperity. Yes he can!