Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A brighter day

Actually the weather is nothing to shout about here today (dreich would be the local word, I'm pretty sure). It's damp, drizzling...but...BUT...(big triumphant heart-warming music) the US elections there's something to shout about!

It's no use pretending otherwise, the US elections do affect us here so I'm not going to pretend I'm anything other than thrilled about Obama's win. I know he's a politician, I'm under no illusions about the nature of politics but still...but an out-and-proud bleeding heart liberal I am SO excited about the news. I know I am an easy crier but even so...I was crying watching him on TV this morning. And what kind of tears were they? Is that joy? Is that what it feels like? Let's enjoy it while we can. The racist crazies may be polishing their guns and hatching their plans (imagine the glory in those demented circles for the hero who takes out Obama...quite terrifying) but we are not going to live in fear of the 'might be', the 'we'd better not' – this is a time to celebrate because hope and history won an election. Brighter days, indeed. (Except what did that comedian Reginald D Hunter say on 'Have I got News for You' the other week? Something about a black man winning 'now the country ain't worth a damn'? Oh not to think about that right now...).

It does of course remind a person of other elections. I remember 'Things can only get better' and Tony Blair in 1997. Despite the song it wasn't quite the same momentous occasion. At that time the excitement more than anything was seeing the end of what had been Thatcher's reign (even though Major wore the damaged crown for the last few years – it was still her era, right to the end). And did things get better? Well, some of them...and others got much, much worse (this is life after all not a Barbie film). All we can hope is that Obama's government has a little more substance behind their theme tunes than Blair's. It might happen...

I also remember the election in Britain in 1987 when so many people were sure Thatcher would lose...and she didn't. I was at a student party full of various radical and left-wing students (and the guest was Attila the Stockbroker...if you've ever come across him you can imagine how pissed off he was at the result!). It was a miserable, miserable night. Outside on the square the students in stripey shirts were popping champagne corks and earning their nickname ('Hooray Henries'). Horrid, horrid, horrid.

But speaking of the USA, as we have done and will continue to do, I've been reading 'Go Tell It on the Mountain' over the past few weeks. I picked it up on 3 for 2 at Borders a little while back because I've heard the name of writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) my whole adult life but haven't got round to reading any of his work so far. First published in 1954, this is a tremendous book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I've been reading it quite slowly (unusually for me) just because the storytelling is so vibrant, the story so full and the language so poetic in places that the words nearly drip off the page. It's subtle at times and knock-you-out-cold powerful at the words of a good preacher, I imagine (one of the main characters is a preacher and I'm sure the book will be even more exciting for those of you who actually know your bibles!).

I haven't finished reading it quite yet but I wanted to mention this book today and quote from it. It seemed a good time. In this part of the book the character Elizabeth has just visited her boyfriend in prison. He has been wrongly accused of robbery and beaten by the police. She is pregnant but has told no-one.

“She looked out into the quiet sunny streets, and for the first time in her life, she hated it all – the white city, the white world. She could not, that day, think of one decent white person in the whole world. She sat there, and she hoped that one day God, with tortures inconceivable, would grind them utterly into humility, and make them know that black boys and girls, whom they treated with such condescension, such disdain, and such good humour, had hearts like human beings, too, more human hearts than theirs.”

And now there's a black man packing his bags to move into the white house (OK he's half white and half black...but let's not be picky...after all the racists never are). It is a significant day – don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Good things can happen.


Anonymous said...

It was great waking up to the good news this morning. We dared to hope and it came to pass. I agree that we shouldn't get too carried away, though. Fox News may think he's a Marxist but he's an American politician working within the American system. I pray he'll be good and at least this day brings some hope to the rest of the world after the sickening Bush years.

Blair was a total let-down in the end, wasn't he? I think power went to his head and he lost sight of why he was in the job in the first place. Sadly, Labour had to move to the right to become electable but he became well beyond a joke. Hope Brown can hang on and start to put things right. Just think, we could get Cameron next!!

Rachel Fox said...

Waking up to good news - makes a change doesn't it!


hope said...

I hope clear heads prevail... and the idiots can't find their ammo.

I would've been happier had Obama finished out his first term as a Senator so he could see first hand the pitfalls of life in Washington, D.C., but ANYONE is better than our current wacko in office. Sigh.

Seems the world is rejoicing over this election, which is a nice change of pace. Maybe Obama can rid "We the People" of that "Evil American" title. After all, your average American is hardworking and kind, but we're judged by our politicians, who all seem to be the spawn of Satan.

It's raining today but the world seems a little brighter anyway.

Rachel Fox said...

I think the world (or at least a good part of it) is rejoicing because it does affect us so much. Blair's 'decision' to send troops to Iraq didn't fool many people...he made no decision on that subject. He just did what he was told by the Bush administration. We can only hope that the Obama administration will have other battles on its collective mind.

Obama's victory may yet save us from a return to tory rule in the UK too. Labour have their faults but we should never forget...the tories are always worse. In my lifetime anyway. And as yet none of the other parties look to have a chance. That may change...who knows?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes, Rachel, I too felt really excited at the news this morning - it can only get better.

Rachel Fox said...

Lets hope so. Let's make it so!

Marion McCready said...

You know, I think I'll miss Bush's gaffs! I dared not hope that Obama would get in and now that he is it feels rather strange, strange in a good way I mean!

Rachel Fox said...

I can honestly say I will not miss Bush, comrade Sorlil.


hope said...

Most of America won't miss Bush. ;)

Always reminded me of the guy on the cover of MAD magazine.

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy that the US has elected it's first Kenyan/Vulcan prez but I think we need some restorative justice after the Bush years - let's get shut him in a cage, like the talking monkey he is, and poke him with sticks.

This would certainly give me some closure and I'm sure the rest of the world would be queuing up to prod him too.

But yes. President Barack Hussein Obama. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Live long and prosper!

Rachel Fox said...

Did you ever watch that documentary about Bush's first presidential campaign - 'Journeys with George'? It was quite frightening in the sense that he was clearly (a) fairly unhinged, (b) stupid... but not just stupid...unhinged too and (c) totally unsuitable for any kind of public office (and I mean any!). And yet he got one of the most powerful jobs in the world. I think future generations will study his time as president and ask 'how did that happen?'

Anonymous said...

Bribery, corruption, patronage, the (good) old boys network - oh, and not forgetting electoral fraud on a massive scale. This is how Bush Jr got into the Oval office.

I didn't see that doco I'm afraid. Too busy learning spelling, grammar, punctuation etc. I seem to have forgotten it all if the comment above is anything to go by .. maybe one day, we'll all be able to forget the 8-year nightmare that was the Bush presidency.

I still think we should throw him in a cage and poke him with sticks though. He'd be getting off lightly, if you ask me.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, yes and yes.