Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Canadian view of the week in US politics

The joys of blogging:
--Some days you have lots to say,
--other days, nothing.
--Sometimes everyone else is already saying the same things--but better, more fluently, more persuasively. 'bout them _________ (insert favorite sports team name).
Just kidding. I really don't care about your favorite sports team.

How 'bout that inauguration? I kinda liked it.
I can't quite figure out why, but for some reason I am more interested in US politics than I ever have been.
I still don't understand their electoral system.
But I am quite enamored with Mr. Obama.
Well spoken, savvy, and in touch with his public. A heart and mind for change, and not just for change's sake.
And I think that I like that I like him because of those reasons, not because he is a visible sign that the civil rights movement has taken new territory.
I think he will make a good president. Period.
Yes, he is black, and I'm impressed that the US has crossed the color barrier.
But that isn't enough to make him successful.
I expect that the novelty of being the first African American to hang out at the White House (I love that--a black in the white house) will wear off after awhile. And that will be an even better sign that equality has gained ground in US politics. In a generation or two, when half of the population will have been born after Obama took office, we can all hope that a man's color won't even show up on political radar screens.
But for today, he is still going to have to be better than a non-black in order to stay above water. Obviously enough Americans moved past the issue of color in order to vote for him. Hurray for the good guys.
But we are still pretty young in this thing called equal opportunity. We are still learning how to walk, and are prone to tripping now and then.
But I am optimistic.
I'm still a Canadian, so I'm not exactly racing to move to the US.
I like the threat of a $34 billion deficit this year, not $1. something trillion.
I like our laid back, live and let live (sometimes) attitude about people around us.
But I recognize that that guy with the well-dressed wife and couple young daughters in Washington will make some decisions that will affect the whole world.
Mr. Bush sure made some.
(By the way, here's a little secret for you guys in the US--you aren't exactly popular with lots of people in the rest of the world--but you may have already noticed that. I think Obama is changing that a bit, but don't let the arrogance of 'leader of the free world' undo the positives that change will bring.)
So....congrats to the US Americans (we are the Canadian Americans, by the way) for a good move. A guy who understands injustice, and is likely to do something about it. A guy who understands that isolationism just doesn't fly in today's world, but isn't going to try to be the police force for the whole world either. I expect that in itself is a tough balancing act, but I think he is up for it.
It would have been easier for him if we weren't in the middle of an economic kerfuffle. Then he could have just got rid of a couple wars, and sat back to let everyone love everyone else again.
But he gets to solve the mysteries of a global economy. And undeclare a war or two. And establish a workable healthcare system. And keep everyone happy. In the first 100 days so that when the honeymoon is over, he will still be loved.

Good luck, Mr. Obama. The whole world is rooting for you. We need you to win, so the rest of us can too.


Peter said...

Well said Al. As an American, I am well aware of our tarnished PR record. Obama's a big move forward, but I heard former Pakistani President Musharraf on CNN today say he doesn't expect Obama to instantly change US foreign policy. In effect, he said the culture of the United States, and it's perceived priorities, must change along with the president, for real international policy to change.

Maybe there's some truth to that cynicism: Obama is the embodiment of American ideals, but ideals and action are two different things.

It may take awhile for our actions to finally resemble our hopes and dreams. And by then, our ideals will have moved along much further - and so we continue to chase our better ideologies. Not an entirely bad thing.

Hope the economy gets better. Hope the world becomes a healthier, more peaceful place.

I don't care for sports much, either.

Blessings Al,

Ed said...

I too agree with you & Peter regarding some of your political rants. There will come a day, when a US change takes place and someone else will police the world (look at world history - Huns, Mongols, Romans, Danes, Spanish, British, Germans-oops.... USA). Maybe, the US is tired and obviously need change. In fact, we all need change.... i really believe that the US has been playing the roll as "management" too long and change is immanent towards "leadership". In his book Tribes, Seth Godin mentions that leadership is not management. He says that managers manage a process they've seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to optimize that process. Leadership is about creating change that you believe in. He says that leaders have followers and managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.
I would like to add my favorite team to the beginning of your rant Al....... the Tennessee Titans football team. There is just something about 6 offensive lineman not weighing less than 312 lbs trying to hold off the swift, strong defensive line not weighing less than 286 lbs clashing and crashing. BTW, i do enjoy the symphony as well.

Al said...

I like both of your thoughts regarding needing true leadership, not just fresh blood within the status quo (which I remember being defined once as Latin for 'the mess we're in').
It's so easy to be impressed with good ideals, or good management. We truly need leaders.
So, Ed, you think the time is coming when the US will either hand off the baton, or it will be taken from them. I predict it will be Canada that becomes the next super-power, lord of the universe, etc. etc. Or not.
And sorry, Ed, it's the muscle-heavy (but sometimes brain cell-weak) aspect of athletes that contributes to my total lack of interest (and even disdain, at times) of sports in general. But you can keep cheering for your Titans.

Ed said...

Hey Al, may i suggest to you two things
1. China be the next super power
2. Do not stereotype 356 lbs athletes.... if you call standing around blocking people due to your massive size an athlete?!


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