Yesterday, America was jumping about in excitement, hope and pride as people watched the event of the year: the swearing in of the newly elected president of the United States of America Barack Obama. This was no ordinary inauguration but the historic realisation of a dream that finally, an Afro-American reached the highest office in the country proving the American dream that everything is indeed possible. The very essence of the American dream symbolises that with hard work, thrift and determination, America is indeed a country where one can work up from the ranks to the top office wielding the levers of power from the oval office.
Obama inherits a poisonous chalice: two wars, a Pearl Harbour economic meltdown and a country that has tarnished its reputation throughout the world. The Bush legacy leaves America in war and having to cope with a difficult economic situation. Obama brings with him a sense of hope that America can overcome its economic and social difficulties with the newly elected president having to concentrate on the economic situation. His slogan “yes we can” must be seen in context. With his wise economic advisors and consultants, Obama can get to the bottom of the crisis and yes he can solve it over a period of time.
This is no mean feat requiring a sense of service and responsibility by all Americans, if they are to see their country get out of the mire, by pulling out of Iraq honourably over the next few months, or maybe years, and by placing democratic building blocks in Afghanistan. It is the sense of responsibility echoing Kennedy’s call for commitment which asks what one can do for his country rather than what the country can do for the individual. This sense can well serve to get America through this difficult period earlier than expected.
But concretely, what change will Obama bring about? Will change mean an ending to the war in Iraq? Will the troops go back home? Will change mean that the economic situation will turn round? Will the Obama effect give a boost to the global financial problem and bring about earlier growth? Will there be a breakthrough in the Middle East?
This is all a tall order but he will be helped by his European allies and possibly from other less expected quarters like Iran, who may realise that it is in its own long term interests to stem the sense of anti-Americanism and try and work out long lasting good relations with America. In spite of the abysmal Bush years and legacy, America remains the strongest and only world power capable of influencing events and making things happen.
We hope that this inauguration proves to be a historic event when leadership and events come together to produce a climate where breakthroughs can take place - cementing the possibility or conflict resolution and the bettering of the world economic state of affairs.
Like anyone else, Obama is entitled to his honeymoon period. That said, it is clear that all electoral rhetoric must now be concretized. The whole world will be watching and indeed hoping that this man will make our world a better place to live in. The Bush years symbolised greed and lack of regulation of financial markets. We hope that Obama will bury excesses and will usher in a fairer world. The election of Obama is the first building block; we wish him our best in making America yet again the moral leader of the world and not just the most powerful war machine. Yes he can.