Thursday, November 6, 2008

O' bummer!

It is hard to say who made the first call.
What is certain is shortly after, within the space of 2 minutes, almost a million more were made. The fact alone was hardly news in a country recording a population of 120 million. And then you took into consideration that the calls began at 3 in the morning. You marveled at the fact that it happened on a Tuesday—a working day. You gasped at the fact that the million calls spurned millions more. And then suddenly the news of the abnormality became worthy news.
The facts were these. Still exhausted from the rigors of a demanding Tuesday, millions of people were forcefully woken from their sleep. The reason was quickly explained. Thousands of miles away, in a country which had its time zone 6 hours behind ours, history had been made. The phone calls called for celebration. Reactions of delighted joy followed the breathless announcements. People called each other to spread the historic news.

I got a call that night.
Mine was for a different reason.
It carried behind it none of the general urge to share the good news which was propelling callers around the country. I was being called to be laughed at. I was the guy in the looking glass—A singular being of agnized negativity living amongst fellow humans—who nobody could understand.Simply put, I was one of those weirdoes who did not support Obama.
“You lost you idiot!” The first caller yelled.
Barely opening my eyes, having been asleep for a little over 4 hours and hence ignorant, I surmised quickly that this probably meant so also did McCain.

It was almost expected of me not to be in love with Obama.
I was rarely asked “Who do you support?”. Instead the assuming line of “You don’t like Obama do you?” was more often used. Born renegade, ever in need of interesting debate, it was not difficult to find myself on the other team against Obama.
In the beginning it was easy. I loved Hillary and completely supported her bid. This was no fickle cheer by some stranger who watches matches during the occasional weekend. This was the obsessed study of charts by a fan as he peers through glasses emblazoned with the logo of his club. My love for Hilary was no new thing. Ever since the Lewinsky era I had admired her strength, focus and loyalty. Attributes I believed no good leader could do without. With Hillary as president, and the equally intelligent ( and less philandric) Bill behind her, America could not hope for a better champion.
And then she lost.

I don’t hate Obama.
A lot of people have come to assume this and I, in keeping with my renegade image, have done nothing to correct that impression. I actually like him. I once sat with my youngest sister and watch her cry as she listened to him talk. The strength of his rhetoric coupled with the steady confident gaze is as powerful an attraction as a siren’s song to sailors. I admire his confidence and his discipline. His composure against attacks thrown at him which criticize his policies and question his loyalty. When Obama walks the stage he does it with the grace of a panther. Effortlessly charming the audience whilst leaving them with no doubt of the strength of his character. As I watched him with each passing day after his party nomination, I became more confident that if there was ever a worthy replacement to my candidate Hillary, he was it.
So why did I appear not to support him?

Very simple.
I was worried about the trend that seemed to be plaguing the world. Everywhere I turned more and more people seemed inclined to have Obama as a president not as a result of the attributes that I was in love with, but for a simpler basal trait. He was an African American. It seemed ridiculous to me that a person’s vote was based primarily on the appearance of his candidate’s skin. All over Nigeria everyone was pro Obama. Not very many people had listened to his debate and even fewer had any idea of what his policies were. Nonetheless, everyone was in complete support of his bid for presidency. Everywhere I turned I was swept with the wave of Obama-mania carried by people who had no substance behind their glee.
I pondered the logic of the situation. The irrationality of voiced sentiments. The absolute danger behind the ecumenical movement.

History warns of the blind worship of new leaders.
Hitler. Idi Amin. Obasanjo.
All three were welcomed into office with loud cheers in the streets. All three ended up being dismal failures at their jobs, spawning a sad tale of irrational murders, kidnapping and unrestrained corruption. Even more interesting was the period at which each assumed power. Their individual nations were at all time low with the economy in stutters. The general public walked with their backs hunched against the mantle of the nation’s ill health. The people were sick of the way they were living and demanded an end to their suffering. Unsurprisingly, in situations of domestic revolt the first head to be chopped of is usually the leader. The people demanded a new king. One who would fix things. One who would ease their burden. One who would bring about that which their every cell called for as it churned in the blood of wretchedness.

I believe it is possible for America to change. I, in fact, fully expect her too.
I am not worried about that. I am worried at the perception of everyone that a singular change of government is going to bring about an immediate change. 46 years ago Martin Luther king asked for a change in the country. 46 years later his wish was answered with the election of the first African American.
46 years.
America is at an all time low. Never, since the great depression, has her economy suffered as badly as it currently is. There are some who would suggest that compared to the depression of the 30’s this is even worse. That is not the issue. What is is how long the much needed revival is going to take. In his acceptance speech Obama pointed this out to everyone saying “….It might take a term to achieve this but , America, I have never been more hopeful.”(A paraphrase). I personally would have been much happier if he had used the word “confident” instead of “hopeful” but the man knows his politics. It would be suicide for anyone to promise a change of the magnitude expected by the American public. I realize that. I do not expect much to change until his second term simply because it will take years for his plans to show fruit but how many voters actually know this?

The issue of America’s health is a serious one in that it affects us all. The Terrorist can groan all they want but if they did eventually get rid of the “Infidels” like they keep threatening to do , they would wake up to find they had an abundance of unwanted goats living in pens feeding on the sparse vegetation the arab desert and occasionally swimming in pools of unused ,by virtue of its niemity, crude oil.
The truth is the well being of the world assumes a precondition that America is equally well. If the United States falters (as it has) then inevitable other economies world wide will falter as well. (As it did.)
If a country’s well being is assumed as important to the health of the world then it follows that more attention be given to the leader of said nation. More thought should be paid to the decision of a successor than the color of his skin.
Barak Obama is an impressive man with incredible potential. And yet I dare say that were this not so—if by some weird chance some idiotic African American with the backings of the Democrats was nominated as presidential candidate—the just concluded wave of singular trait worship ,coupled with the desperate need for change, would have swept him just as overwhelmingly into office.
This is not impossible. How else did George W. Bush get elected president?

Hasn’t the time come when people are more concerned about what the candidate can do for the country and less about who he is? Today the media announces that the election was not about race. I beg to differ. It was mostly about race. If indeed the well being was chief in the minds of the American public then Obama might never have survived the primaries. The polls show that Obama was voted in by an overwhelming number of the black and young demographic. If ten were to be picked and asked what informed their decision 9 of them would reply with words associated with “Change”, “African American” and “being cool”. In an election designed to select the leader of the free world it is absurd that this is what it boils down too. The cosmetic plebeian perception of the masses. A selection based more on racial profiling than on the candidate’s official qualification for the position being lobbied.

Do not get me wrong.
I believe there were millions of people who made an informed decision to vote for Obama. In all likelihood there was very little in way of preventing a Democratic return to power. The Republicans had done such a good job destroying the virtues of the nation that the people would have had to be extremely blind to have returned them to power. Obama’s victory was surprising not because of the Party’s triumph but because of the person who the Democrats approved to ride their Seabiscuit.

The very play of sensation against sensibilities was evident in the final lap. Barack Obama picked a vice president because he understood that, for the few Americans out there who were not caught up in the hebdomadal countdown to possible history being churned by the media, his foreign policy and knowledge was reason enough to lose him some of their votes. Hence the choice of Biden—a man designed to satisfy those who demanded enterprising leaders instead of entertaining one. Senator Mc Cain on the other hand astutely realized that where common sense was involved he would be hard put to gain a following outside that which he already had ( The diehard republican faithful.) and so he seized on the genius idea of riding the wave of sensationalism. Sarah Palin was a good counter to Obama’s social fame. With that singular act Mc Cain sought to pull with him more people. People from the demographic where race, sex and a candidate’s glass were good enough reasons to get voted into office. And unsurprisingly, up until the financial meltdown his daedal plan was actually working.

I argued with people to make them think.
A time must come when we make decisions based on individually contemplated review and not on the hand painted presented worth given by the media and ultimately the majority public. There must come a time when we vote with reason. There must come a time when a man’s rhetoric, as charming as it might be, will not be enough to sway our decision not to support him if his mettle does not charm us accordingly. Eloquence is expected of leader. Fustian and witty rhetoric is the trademark of a politician.
Being a successful leader requires the ability to charm your followers.
Being a successful follower requires the strength to look through the charm and point out the murk that exists beneath—if any. If we do not study our leader we end up with the Hitlers of the world.
A nation is only as strong as its people.

I am delighted with Obama’s victory.
I am excited about what it stands for.
My only wish was that his victory was more as a result of confident belief in the man and less on the public need of hope and the infantile decision to change the history books just because…we can. Obama sought to be elected as president but instead got an approval as a savior. I look forward to his administration and pray that the American people find patience with him. Something they normally would have had, had their decision to vote for him been based on a realistic idea of what he could achieve and not (as it mostly was) on a dream of some Messianic president who would fix everything with his African wand in his very first year.

Writing this blog the irony of my situation does not evade me.
Many of the people trapped by sensationalism do not read. They are dependent more on the word shared on the streets and the glitz of cameras. Writing an article complaining about the social situation is an exercise drenched in futility. The only people who will ever get to read this are people who really do not need too. People who are used to reading and listening and then thinking.
There is little more I can do but that which I have always done. Persist in my role as a part time renegade—Challenging commonly accepted truths in a bid to make people search for the ingrained reason that makes it true. If it makes me appear a hater of Obama and spurs them on to find reasons to effectively counter my assumed disloyalty then I shall have done society some small service.
Come January I shall welcome Obama into office with a content smile.
But deep in my heart shall lurk the dark worry that despite thousands of years of painful experience the human race is still terribly fickle. Still worryingly pliable to the whims of the majority and the circumstances of the time. Particularly in moments of crisis. History will always be a willing teacher as long as we keep returning for the same lesson.
There is very little I can do, I suppose.
Except give little lectures, annoy a few more clueless Obama supporters and answer amusing early morning calls.
It is every man’s right to vote.
I only just wish, we all voted for the right reasons.

God bless us all.


Anonymous said...

Am I first?

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh I am first. I am first o! I was audacious enough to hope that one day this little black girl will be first on this blog and with perseverance and generally having no life, I was able to achieve the great dream. The Blogville dream is achievable people, if you will only hope. YES I CAN. YES I DID! Oh YES I DID!!!!

Carlang said...

BBUMIGHT said...

I have in fact been following this election since the democratic primaries. Hilary Clinton was my preferred candidate. Quite frankly at a point i didnt care anymore since either way it would still be history.

Ever since Barack Obama won the nomination of the DNC, CNN and MSNBC replaced regular tv shows for me.
Obama's plans contrasted sharply with McCain's and very soon it was quite clear who the better candidate was.
He ran a very clean campaign and he stood the early tests (picking his VP, and responding to the financial meltdown).
I watched all three debates and followed their campaigns (i know, I need a life!) but the fact is Obama is much more than the African-American president. He really cares about the country, much more than McCain did.
In the next couple of days, you'll start reading the inside gists from the campaigns and you'll wonder why McCain still went with Palin.

Carlang said...

This was initially posted by BUMIGHT ( as well as the preceding comment).

BUMIGHT said...

plus 12% of the votes were African-American and so Obama could NOT have won based on the african american votes alone - even if every single african american voted for him. He had to earn the confidence of White America also.
I guess most people were anxious to see if people could see past racial prejudice and vote the better man for the job.
I dont know if he could have done it without the Financial meltdown, but when you're dying of thirst, you dont care whether its a black or green man that hands you the bottle of water that you so desperately need.

Anonymous said...

Umm, You know Carlang, I agree with you on some points...
I was not really a supporter of Obama until the day he actually won after his speech or mayhap during the speech. I did not support him because he made an error on the validity or interpretation of the 8th Amendment to the constitution, despite the fact that he was a constitutional law professor. To me he knew better but he diluted his reason and his intellect to get elected and I lost my faith. And I simply did not trust in "Hope". I am not hopeful, in fact I am petrified. I am so afraid for him, not because of a possible assasination but because We, Americans, are not Patient. On that score I think you are wrong. We want change now and we are simply not willing to wait for 8 years to get it. However, one really neat thing is his ability to inspire people, both white, black, young and old. He inspired with his rhetoric and charm and NOT because he was black, at least in America. I am aware that black people in this country and around the world were fascinated by him especially because he is in fact black American, of African descent. He is theorectically, a first generation African, and this opens possibility. But that is not where it ends. He compels one to be in awe of him because despite his africaness, he was albe to inspire poeple who were not like him. He was able to transcend the box of "African American". But again I am afraid for him. I mean we crucified the messaih, and if he does not revoke this messianic fervor, then, he surely will be cruxified. I think he did that a little in his speech and I was inspired again.

Carlang said...

@ BUmight:
You misread me.
I never said Obama does not care about the nation. I did not question his loyalty or his passion.
In fact I stressed it.

My point is, and still is, millions of people unlike you did not vote because they knew of his commitment. They voted simply because he was black.

If Nelly was the running candidate maybe you would not have voted for him.
But those other people most probably might have.

Finally , 12 percent is a lot to toss around as insignificant.

Look at it this way..
If the 12 percent demographic hadn't voted for him..
We would still have been discussing the results of the last American Idol.

As far as the white demographic go. I'm convinced almost every white Democrat voted for him.
The same might not have happened had he been running as say... an independent.

@ Termite:
You make my argument for me.
My point is....
If a leader come with glowing eloquence and lofty dreams... is that reaason enough to vote him into office.
How many people actually questioned the merit of following his lead?
Most people just heard his speech and that was enough for them all.

Hitler was also eloquent, with the same ability to inspire.

I love Obama.
I think he is great.
But i also think a lot of people just voted for the heck of it.

I love Obama.
I think he is great.
Why do i have to keep defending myself to everyone.
My issue isn't with him.
It's with everyone else.

bumight said...

but my point is Barack Obama is not the first African-american to have tried for the presidency.
Even if 12% is a lot of number, we have to remember that the US presidency hinges on the electoral college votes not the popular vote.

He won Florida, Virginia, North carolina,Indiana. These were cherry Red republican states, that don't have a lot of African americans.

of course a lot of people all over the world support him because he's half black, but their support did not translate into votes.

The whole of Black America and the world could have supported him, but if millions of whites couldn't see beyond his skin color it would not have mattered. The celebration is because in a country where racism is still very much alive, albeit sublte, millions were able to see past his skin color and award him their vote.

Nefertiti said...

Quite an interesting perspective you have there, Carlang, and lol@ 'termite'.

Unlike everyone, I was never an early supporter of Hilary, I was more for Obama, and the reason is simple. Coupled with the fact that being the first lady does not account for the experience of holding the commander in chief office, she represented old politics, old washington, insider, and everything that i see wrong with washington leadership. Like you however, I am a pessimist. I must admit that I was very critical of Obama. I look on the bright side in this issue though. I like the fact that Obama is an African American, mostly because of what promise his presidency holds for the future, not just because of the color of his skin. I like the fact that he can inspire humans of all race and creed with his rhetoric. True, this is the trade mark of a politician, but not every politician can inspire you with their rhetoric. Most feed my general lack of trust in politicians. I disagree with bumight(to an extent) in that the economy is thirsty at this time, and it really doesn't matter who's handing us the water. I think compared to his opponent, I generally trust Obama more because he's shown intelligence (I watched all debates, from primaries to the very end- very critical of him and his answers in most), strenght of character (When he stood up for Reverend Wright, even when it was clear the man was delusional), foresight (I personally agree that the war in Iraq was a bad idea and poor judgement), to say the least.

Finally, I think we underestimate the patience of the American people. Case in point, Pres. Bush. His favorable ratings did not take a sharp decline until his second term. We even put him in office a second time. Now if that isn't patience, I don't know what is. I could argue that it's major stupidity. I hope that we are patient enough to allow him to succeed or disappoint us.

But what do I know, I'm just an 800 pound Gorila in the room :-)

Anonymous said...

Err Carlang, my name is Temite, you know Temi with a te at the end. not Termite like the pest! I am sure that was just a typo and you were not trying to imply something there. LOL!
Err I didnt mean to imply that you did not like Obama, anyone who has ever heard one of his speeches and bothered to look at his resume cannot help but admire his brilliance and hard work. However my argument is that incredible eloquence coupled with a centrist platform will surely throw most Americans into a fervor. Clinton did almost the exact thing and he was relatively succesful as a president. Obama was not elected because of just his eloquence and charm, however it did not hurt him at all. Post WW1 Germans are not the same as Americans in the 21st century. The Germans bought into Hitler's racist philosophy and that was what they wanted. Obama is not radical at all and if he had been, I trust that Americans would NOT have voted him in.

Carlang said...

Why are we still arguing about Obama?

No. He is not the first black man to run for president.
But each time a black man has made known his intention you cannot deny the fact that there has been a lot of extra attention paid to him.

My point, again, is this.
Most people are attracted to the novelty of the idea behind a black man being president.

Again you help my argument.
Yes a lot of people outside America yearned for an Obama administration.
My question is why?
This post isn't about the American election. It is about the unregistered election that was held in the living room of every African in the world.

WHy do you keep on making sound like it is only the blacks who seem keen on having an african american in the office.
When Martin Luther made his great speech there were also a lot of whites present. Not every caucasian is against the colored folk.
As far as the electoral votes go he did not suffer badly from being a Democrat.
We have white democrats who rather vote for Saddam Hussein's brother than for a republican.
Add in the fact that most republicans are at present unhappy with the party ( Colin Powell for example) and his victory in red states becomes clearer.

Mon dieu.
My argument is simply this.
Do you deny that there are millions of people out there who voted for Obama simply because he was black , cool and an eloquent speaker?

How in God's name is that reason enough?

800 pound Gorilla?
Arent we all?

You make good arguments. My article was not targeted at the majority of the American public as seems to be the current consensus.
I was in fact targeting the minority who vote for the hell of it and not because they feel/sense something.
Voting shouldn't be fun.
It is a duty.
One that should be carried out as best as you can.

You are right in saying that the American people are extremely patient.
But Obama's administration is a peculiar one. I fear with him criticism will be sharper as it shall be unfair.

Sherri said...

tis been said "in time of stress and strain people will vote"
and vote they did for an "idea" whose time has come.

u just voiced my initial reaction to the mania heralding his candidacy, but i've come to understand and embrace that which he represents to them that stand without.
it is a needed shot in the arms for the african american people and an inspiration for people all over the world.

i also worry about the expectation and scrutiny but i am "confident" in his ability to try.

if am not mistaken it sounds like we (u and i) are not overly impressed by the principles of his life nor do we think it's extra-ordinary cos we live by those same principles, have achieved relative success and yet we don't think much of it.

Nine said...

I feel compelled to comment here.

I see your point about the near adulation Obama seems to draw.Problem is,I really don't see how it could be any other way,not after the last eight years.

Note,I was a(non-voting)Bush supporter when he was elected.In his eight years,the Bush administration has,with the collusion of the Republicans, managed to ignore international law,lie to both the public and members of the legislature,subvert the US Constitution,mismanage not one but TWO wars,AND run the US economy into the ground.They have managed to convert a 200 billion budget surplus into a trillion dollar deficit.

It's not just that they were wrong.It's also that they were INCOMPETENT.Elements of the Bush AAdministration packed the Justice Dept and the some of the courts with party loyalists,as in literally you had to be the right kind of Republican to get selected for these posts.Immigration court judge positions remained empty because they could not find enough right wing Republicans to put there.

Add to that the fact that the Republicans have been pushing a xenophobic immigration policy-which alienates Hispanics,the largest growing population,a black population that regard them as institutionally racist,an anti intellectual tone which turns off smart people,rampant scandals,a Christianist tilt that alienated both non-Christians and moderate Christians, and there HAD to be a reckoning.Only surprise is that the win was not as heavy as it could have been.

Which brings me to McCain.72 yr old senator with a history of multiple episodes of skin cancer.Good reputation previously,but forced to pander to the more extreme portions of his party to win nomination.He was probably going to lose anyway,but his selection of Palin as vice disqualified him right there.Consider,she did not know that Africa was a CONTINENT!I kid you not.Then she tried to state that the fact that her state shared a border with Canada and Russia gave her foreign policy experience.Characterwise,she has exhibited a vindictiveness and willingness to exert political power in settling private scores viz a viz her ex brother in law that is eerily similar to Bush-Cheney's disregard for limits on their power.Throw in her disastrous first two interviews.Add the fact that they really did not make any substantive policy proposals,unlike their opponent.Then there was the tone of their campaign,which frankly you had to experience to believe.

As for people voting BECAUSE Obama was black,I think you are overstating the case.The economic troubles in the US are bad enough that people were voting for whoever they thought would be better at solving them.Obama was simply better at both making plans and articulating them to the public.

Let me give you an anecdote:
So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

True story.

Nine said...

Why did people yearn for an Obama win?Because,for good or ill,people have projected onto him their hopes for a better tomorrow as opposed to a present where 80% think their country is going in the wrong direction.

Non-Americans simply hope that the most powerful nation in the world will be less inclined to throw its weight around and might actually participate in collective decisions about the world's direction.

Consider;born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and American mother,middle named Hussein,schooled in Indonesia,graduated Harvard,community worker in Chicago.Half-brother in Kenya with huge family,half sister from Indonesia.Huge symbolism there.

Plus,I think he may be the first president who knows who Green Lantern is.That's geek cred right there:)

LusciousRon said...

Fantastic insight! But you have generated a lot of arguments.
Of course some people voted because of his coolness, skin colors etc
That cannot be avoided.
I supported him because he dared to dream in a country where he wouldn't even have gotten past a complimentary 'oh we need a black man to appease the blacks'
He gave hope to a lot of people that really you can do anything you set your mind to.
He had no powerful senator as a father, his name is not John, he had no golf club parties growing up, he didn't marry the 4 or 7th generation of a founder he is one of the most oppressed and dehumanized minorities in the history of that country, yet he rose and he WON!

There will be very rocky patches when the glamour fades but he needs prayers and goodwill for him to succeed. He knows his own shortcomings he recognises the fact that he has zilch experience in governance but with the right cabinet members and a lot of luck and goodwill, he will indeed make a change.

Carlang said...

@ Temite not "Termite"
I'm sorry dear.
It wont happen again.

You are mistaken.
All that are a people need to go from sanity to irrationality is an event.
In World war 2 Hitler played on the failing german pride.

7 years ago bush used the 9/11 attack.
We all think it was a bad idea invading Iraq now.
But 5-6 years ago a lot of people were in support of it.
Lets kill the suckers. Al Quaeda must die

Compared to the same wave that happened 60 years ago in Germany i fail to see the difference.
People are only civilized for as long as civility is respected by all parties.

I do not think Obama is cut from the same Radical stock.
But i wager, you didnt think Bush would turn out this way when you voted 8 years ago.

All we can do is pray.

@ Sherri:
Exactly my point.
YOU have come to embrace the values behind the chant that would qualify Obama as president.
But there are millions who haven't.
Who didn't.

There are people who voted for Obama because of the novelty behind the act and the desperate need for change.
Aside from that, there was little else that informed their decision.

Still i agree with you.
His election will turn out to be the needed salve to the worlds battered foreign relations.
His election into office is a good thing.
My point is , it very easily could have not.

quote "
Note,I was a(non-voting)Bush supporter when he was elected"

That sums up my point.
8 years ago if people had actually taken time to study the man behind the glitz we( and by we i mean the rest of the world.) would have realised the error of our thinking.

But the same ingredients were there.
The need to change the ruling party.
A sense of change.
The possibility of making History ( A father-son presidency within 12 years.).

Factors that , very much were present in Obama's victory.

You misread me. I didnt mention his being black as the only reason. I mentioned the current desperate need for change as well.

My argument is this.
Supposing Obama was some weak and yet eloquent black man who got the democratic ticket.
What are the odds he wouldn't still end up president?

i grant you every point you made.
I am thrilled with his status with the Green legion.
Now if only he would show us a picture of him holding a six pack...

Carlang said...

i suspect almost everyone that Blogs has a very good reason for why they voted for him.
I surmised as much in--what is fast appearing to be--my controversial article.

I have no argument with you.
I have my reasons as well for why i wanted him voted in.

But sadly there are million out there who voted him in just because the tide demanded they vote the other guy in!

fantasy queen said...

you and my sister are on the same page! but that dont make me love both of you less.
i've shared some of your views, but it wasnt enough to change my mind, lets face it, i dont have a vote,my vote and opinion dont count to americans.and theres no direct impact on me whosoever wins.
except the fact that CNN happens to be my 'wannabe smart enzyme'ticket, and i cant afford to see maccains face smirking at all the freaking time.
obama is no denzel, but hes enough to keep me on cnn.

Anonymous said...

i hear you carl, loud and clear!

i didnt follow the campaigns, or the debates or anything. i got all my political info from E!(RE: Paris Hilton), MTV(RE: Will.I.Am) and the occassional (Nigerian) newspaper headline (RE: Africa for Obama).
and so, when my dad asked me if i liked him i was like, 'i don't have an opinion'.

i'm happy he won, but i think i'da been ok with the state of things if McCain had won.

i found the Nigerian 'barackation' a tad false for exactly the points you made. how many of them ever heard any of his speeches? how many of them know his policies? how many of them care about anything except the colour of his skin?
if Obama in all his glory, found out he was Nigerian and contested for president, how many of them would have voted for him?

one of the bosses at work said on monday, 'Africa for Obama joo, he is our person'. and while the other boss argued saying, 'America's international policy is not going to change', and urged him to pay closer attention to the political facts as opposed to the sensationalized picture.

History's been made, but why it was allowed to be made is the question.

Nine said...

Well,I'd rather have people make the right decision by mistake than be rationally,honestly wrong:)

Seriously,that ain't anything new.Bush famously got elected for seeming like a guy you'd wanna have a beer with.Reagan because he seemed reassuring.More people vote based on gut feeling than rational contemplation.Some people can't tell the difference between gut and head decisions:)

Never fear though,once I become Supreme Overlord,I guarantee it will cease to be a problem:)

Naapali said...

Interesting read. Many things I could be renegade here and challenge if not take issue with. My central argument though boils down to the fact that elections are at the core, popularity contests. Popularity contests depend on mass appeal. Mass appeal is by nature fickle and often irrational. However if one agrees to the concept of democracy as all votes being equal then the election you saw gave the best possible outcome. Regardless of other undertones the more intelligent and more politically astute team won.

You employed a sleight of hand in the examples you picked to show how mass appeal can go wrong. Idi Amin was not elected, Obasanjo arguably did not win a free and fair election. The nation Hitler rose to lead is not the modern day USA. You could have picked examples like Nelson Mandela, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln. All elected in times of hardship with great expectations. All of whom can be said to have lived up to expectations even if they did not cure the world of its ills.

Winston Churchill once said "democracy is the worst system of government, but it is the best system we have". There are alternatives to America's first past the post, one man one vote, electoral college system that seem fairer. Examples would be the proportional representation systems employed in Israel, The Netherlands and Belgium. However, these systems result in governments of ever strained coalitions lasting 2-3 years at best. I doubt you will argue that this system would work for the USA.

Perhaps Obama will confirm the elitist charges leveled against him and confirm my proposal that everyone takes a general knowledge quiz prior to casting a vote.

As usual I enjoyed this and learnt a few words along the way.

babeandahalf said...

I can think of worse reasons for voting for a person other than them being black, cool and an eloquent speaker (if you doubt this, think of George Bush); maybe those qualities are not the worst qualities for being president.

But then again, you could also:

1) display unassailable judgment (check: look at his judgment even in picking the two Davids to run his campaign. If he keeps displaying this kind of judgment, I don't think he'll do too badly as President);
2) actually have a message (check: CHANGE. I am not sure you could use one word to sum up McCain's message);
3) have a wife who is maybe even smarter than you and looks something other than a Barbie doll (check: need I say more here?);
4) not have the baggage of being part of the what has been wrong with the USA (check: 4 years in the US Senate is hopefully not long enough to have been corrupted. If you want more conviction that maybe Americans do not trust their Senators in the White House, remember that the last Senator that was elected to the White House was JFK another Democrat, about 48 years ago. In fact JFK took office the year Obama was born!!!); and finally
5) smart (check: his IQ I hear is practically genius level);
6) be a novelty and there's nothing wrong there in my opinion(check: maybe he can show the world the example of a fine-and fine here has nothing to do with looks- black man).

So, here's to Obama and to 4 years of progress in the USA.

Now, can we discuss Nigeria's issues???!!!

Naapali said...

@ Nine
- you voiced many things I thought about and for brevity's sake did not touch upon.

@ Carl
- you said "Supposing Obama was some weak and yet eloquent black man who got the democratic ticket."

- that is a huge supposition there. The democratic ticket was not given, it was fought for and in my opinion, that battle was even bloodier than the general election.

- Obama won the democratic ticket against a party machine that had twice helped elect Bill Clinton president. That is not a feat to be understated. Compared to the primaries the general election was actually a cake walk.

- my wife and I were among the many people to take time out of their jobs, leave home, spend their own money and travel to states/towns they had never been to canvassing for a man they had never met. Among the many volunteers we met I do not recall any doing it simply because he was black, good looking or cool. Many of us did not do it because we were life long democrats either.

- the comparison of modern day America to Hitler's Germany is more than a stretch. Yes post 9/11 there was a martian vibe to American discourse and the drums of war sounded out loud. However by the time Iraq came around there were protests and debates against war. Barack O's voice was only one of many. Since the debacle of the war has been better understood, the pendulum has swung fully away from it. This was not Hitler's Germany.

- as to the argument of voting for change sake; that is why elections are held in the first place, to grant the possibility of change.

- Hilary Clinton would also have been a chance to make history. Clearly that was not enough of a reason in the primaries.

- I do not know when Nigerian support for Obama reached fever pitch, but know my Nigerian relatives were Clinton supporters during the primaries. Obama was too young, lacked respect trying to run for the highest office. Some even played the race card on him i.e. "there is a reason they call it the White House".

- Only time will tell whether Obama will live up to the "Audacity of Hype" surrounding him, but the fact is his team is the better qualified one of the choices available.

ChiefO said...

im loving this debate... boy do i have more than 2 cents to add. just cant at the moment reading and typing a comment on my fone is hard enough not to talk of a long comment.

would be back later.

NigerianDramaQueen said...

OMG, I have responded to this same argument at least 10 times in the last 48hours, but for you my darling Carl, I'll respond again:

1. On Hillary Clinton: Yes, many were dissappointed when Hillary Clinton lost. My problem with Hillary Clinton has always been how partisan she is. She has always demonized Republicans simply put...and this country was in need of a unifier, not another divider. Bill Clinton will always be one of my heroes, and I would have been happy with either Clinton or Obama. But the man with the bigger ears, the one who was willing to reach out to the red states, and to employ 15 full time workers in the ultra-red state of Nebraska for just one electoral vote,ultimately got my vote.

2.On Race: Where there people who voted for Obama solely because of race-of course. Where there people who did NOT vote for Obama solely because of race as well-heck yes! So the race card played on both sides of the fence. The fact remains that even though 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama, they make up less that 20% of the population. There are more Hispanics in America than Blacks. Plus a good chunk of the African-American population is in jail anyways-and by extension not eligible to vote. Obama could not have become president without White, Black, Hispanic and Republican votes. Period. Plus, there have been several black candidates in the past-think Al Sharpton, or Jesse Jackson. If race was enough, Obama would not have been the first African-American president of the United States.

3.On Young Voters: Yes, it is true that young voters really made the difference in this election. But remember 2000? The young people and hollywood watchers were all excited about Gore. Did they actually go out and vote? No. Maybe this time for the first time, young voters actually felt compelled to go vote. So it was more than excitement, or Obama-mania. It was about the need for any kind of Change...and McCain for many just meant more Bush.

4. On uneducated votes: There are several people who voted for Obama without knowing where he stood on several issues-granted. But there are several people who voted against Obama because of this same mis-education. I have heard the words "socialist", "communist", "infanticide", "abortionist"- thrown around by people who dont even know what those words mean. The number one reason I've heard people vote for McCain is, "I just dont believe in that spreading the wealth thing". Meanwhile, if we are going to talk about spreading the wealth:
a. In Sarah Palin's state of Alaska, people do not pay income taxes. Instead, oil companies are taxed heavily and every man, woman and child receives a four-figure check from the government. If thats not wealth spreading, what is?
b. In 2000, when we actually liked McCain, he said during an MSNBC interview, "I don't think theres anything wrong with some people paying a little more". McCains sudden shift this election may have been his downfall. To suggest even more tax cuts for companies, many of which outsource was a big mistake at this time. Infact, I dare say the economy is what made the difference in this election.
In the end, race was influential, but not deciding. People voted for change.

5. On Hitler: I take personal offence with the correlations made with Hitler. Both Obama and Hitler were great orators, yes. But Hitler's message and skills were used to promote Anti-Semitism and genocide. Bid Difference. At the foundation of any good economy-there is consumer confidence, and by extension hope. When Nelson Madela ran for office-did people vote for him because he was a good talker? Yes. Did they vote for him because they wanted a Black President after so long, Yes. And did they vote for him because he was a skillful orater-yes. But most of all, they voted for the same message of hope and unity. And allow me to say-Ain't nothing wrong with that!
I am sorry I am taking this out on you, but I live in the south and I have heard to many comments like this in the past few days and I am so heated! Amongst the comments that have been made to me or my friends:
-"Obama is the Anti-Christ, much like Hitler"
-"R.I.P America. Doomsday is here. America is becoming socialist/communist"
-"Gosh so Niggers have the white house now"
-"That monkey needs to go back to Africa"
A "friend" of mine walked around with a t-shirt with Obama's face on the front and the back saying, "let the nightmare begin".
So any correlation with Hitler whatsoever inferiorates me.

All this to say: The race was more than race.
I still heart you Carl!

NigerianDramaQueen said...

I just read the other comments. Looks like Bumight and Naapali said everything I wanted to say...see how I took up blog real estate for no reason now!

Queen of My Castle said...

I must side with Bumight, NDQ, and Naapali. We were very informed in making our decisions, and quite frankly it's an undeserved slap in the face to suggest that we voted for him simply because of the color of his skin. Hillary was also a great candidate for the position, but unlike Obama, she showed no signs of uniting both parties. Heaven knows that Bill Clinton was one of the best things to happen to America, but Hillary is no Bill.

I, too, live in the south and it's very disheartening to hear that we voted for him solely on race, though I would be lying to say that it doesn't feel good to have a fellow African American hold the highest ranking position in our country because for once...we feel like we belong.

isha said...

You know what? I am so happy you wrote this. He's the President ELect not another civil rights leader, and everytime I say something to that effect, I'm blaspheming. I understand the sentiment behind an African American achieving something like this, but enough about it already gees!
I deleted everything else I wrote, cos I don't want wahala lol.

Carlang said...

Okay that does it.
There’s no point continuing this if everyone is going to keep nitpicking and turning a logical discussion into some silly war.

I never said EVERYONE voted as a result of his race or color.
(So I have no idea why people are yelling about being slapped in the face or being offended.)

I did in fact say that people made an INFORMED decision to vote for him. (Which makes me wonder why people are now informing me of said informed decision.)

I announced that I expected almost everyone who blogged to be of the above class. (Re: Being clear as to the reasons why they voted.)
Which I have now been made to really understand.

I said about a hundred times (well not really) that I think Obama would be a great president.

This article was not about Obama!
I seem to keep repeating myself. I was merely debating the danger of blind trust that comes midst troubled periods. Obama was merely a scenario as was my reference to Hitler, Idi Amin and Obasanjo.
Bringing up Nelson Mandela (whilst clearly in line with my proffered scenario) would hardly have made much sense.
It would be like warning about the danger of fire and suddenly announcing "Hey!it’s great for cooking."

If anyone has been paying attention to the news, and I believe we all have, then you will realize that there are at least a hundred million people out there who wanted Obama as president just because of his skin. I started the article talking about the reaction in Nigeria. Why do you all suddenly think I was talking only about AMERICANS?

I sense regardless of what I say, people are going to keep reading unsaid slights in my note about Obama.
Obama is not Hitler.
I never said he was. But do you deny that the same current love and blind trust currently being placed on him by the public is different from that which Hitler received.
This is what worries us stupid pessimists/skeptics.
How easily it could all go wrong.

We are probably silly for trying to see what could so easily be. I have a lot of faith in mankind. But not that much.

I am delighted that at least some people agree with me. It shows that I am not completely insane. My mum used to tell me. “If people say something about you. Stop and take a hard look. It’s probably true.”

Finally i grant you all your arguments.
Obama is indeed a lovely president who will lead us all to paradise.
He is a loyal green Lantern fan.
And the republicans never stood a chance in hell.


Naughty Eyes said...

Phew! Some of the longest comments I've ever read - even longer than the post itself. And I thought reading "Carl with a C" was always fun...
Got a headache... Need to lie down after drinking the latest pain-killer: Obama-dol

Vera Ezimora said...

LOL @ Temite being Termite. Freudian slip, yes? Hehehe. I think Carlang thinks Temite is a pest!

Nuff said on the Obama issue. I have been following (and supporting) him since the primaries. I'm glad he won. I eagerly await some changes. I, for one, know the change that I hope 2 see.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Between Nine, Naapali and Bumight, they have said most all I want to say. Pray, is Nine a doctor too?

1. Leadership is mostly about inspiration. To lead you must inspire the people who would follow you. The closest Nigerian example would be OBJ in 99 but as usual he ended up a disappointment.

I cannot compare Obama with Hitler or Idi Amin, not even OBJ as you did.

2. The man had a message. CHANGE. Can you just summarize McCain's message in 3000 words?

People will vote for change of any kind, once they just want it. Politicians like Obama have learnt to be everything to everybody. If you actually study his strategies you would understand how he evolved from the primaries through to the general elections.

He didn't change his message but he changed his speeches. That was one thing Hilary didn't have, she was too stiff.

3. Believe it or not, Obama was going to lose the election because of the color of his skin. Go and study again the campaign strategies of Hilary Clinton. Her strategies were based on Bill capturing the black vote but Obama held on and refused to surrender that turf while at the same time, playing the 'I-am-also-half-white' card.

Remember his speech after the Rev. Wright fiasco? Who did you think set up Wright to it? T'was the Clintons!

N.I.M.M.O said...

An American professor I met at the USIS before the elections told me that the bukuru people will vote Obama just because they are tired of Dubya in the White House.

'At last to have an intelligent person in the White House who could string together two sentences without referring to a paper' he said.

Zephi Fahrenheit said...

Although I’m not a blogger, I was referred to this post by someone who thought this would interest me.

I concur with you on certain points. First of all, it’s true that a good number of voters didn’t vote with reason and self-argument. (However, as you admit, there were informed voters as well.) As you were, I was disgusted with blacks in America and other countries who supported the man simply because he was black. What if he was a leader with inimical political propositions and policies? However, it would behoove you to note that there are a number of black intellectuals and figures that the vast group of African Americans (uninformed Africans would support any black anyway) would not support. Examples include Thomas Sowell and Alan Keyes. Thomas Sowell is particularly impressive since I agree with him on many principles as well as a libertarian-like philosophy of personal responsibility and self-determination. Even if blacks in America would support Thomas Sowell prima facie, he would be abandoned after vociferous critics and black leaders incited the uninformed crowd against him by outlining some of his policies that are inconsistent with the sociology of urban African Americans. Thomas Sowell’s opposition to policies like affirmative action, welfare, and government assistance would be sufficient to make a significant number of African Americans abandon him.

Barack’s success with blacks lie in the following factors:

1. Democrat: African Americans, since the 1980s, have quasi-monolithic tendencies evident in their regular and convincing support for democrats. Clinton, Gore, and Kerry all received over 80% of black votes. Gore in particular received 90% while Kerry received 88%. The almost uniform voting record of African Americans for democrats lie in historical factors that I won’t highlight here.

2. Politics: Obama, due to his community service work and alliance with the black community, has strong ties with black leaders from the civil rights era and influential blacks in urban America. Is important to mention that Obama did this while pleasing the dominant Anglo-Saxon American people. He was able to appeal to folks (including blacks) by careful orchestration of his politics and policies.

3: Race: This is self-explanatory.

4. The economy, the war, and other factors can be lumped in the 4th position.

Overall, this is good post. I wish people were more reflective and read more about sociopolitics

zephi's bf

Black Man Comes said...

Thou shalt not tease your readers. Start spilling.

Nine said...

@ZF's BF
Black voting preferences for Democrats stem from one central position:they believe the Republican Party is institutionally racist.Not without justification,mind you;check out Wikipedia on The Southern Strategy,Jesse Helms and the Willie Horton/Lee Atwater/Bush '88 election for some of the more egrgious examples.

Funny thing is,on the face of it blacks generally have social views that would place them squarely on the right of the political spectrum.Plus,until the sixties African Americans voted largely Republican.The Democratic Party was the de facto party of racists and segregationists.But then LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act.And the Republicans invented the Southern Strategy.The rest,as they say,is history:)

doug said...

"The only people who will ever get to read this are people who really do not need too. People who are used to reading and listening and then thinking."

So I'm a thinker??!! Wow! Who'da thunk it? lol

Anyways much has been said on Barack's victory so I will not flog it toooo much. I do believe however that if you're to speak of people having voted him without thoroughly questioning his merit, then he was at the very least the lesser of evils when compared to his opponents.

Obama lost the state of Pennsylvania (a key state) to Clinton purely on the basis of race.

As one mediahouse put it " in five Pennsylvania voters made it clear that race was a factor in their vote. Translated; they would not vote for an African-American for president, no matter how fresh, articulate and race neutral his pitch".

I also think that most people take the "Obama didn't get a white majority vote" thing out of context.

Obama by virtue of his victory became the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to win a popular-vote majority. Moreover he attracted a larger portion of white votes than any previous non-incumbent Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter. What particular white demographic this was made of is irrelevant.

The point is that no Democratic candidate since Lyndon Johnson has won a majority of white votes and Obama did better than Gore and Kerry who were both sparkling white.
In that context I think that it is unfair to judge him based on your arguments.

Also we've had sparkling rhetoric in the past from brilliant, dynamic leaders who went on to change the world and the way we saw it. Why then do people always choose to draw parallels with Hitler and other monsters?

Agreed, a whole lot of people voted blindly but if you look at it dispassionately (and an insistence on playing the renegade can often hinder this) there are idiots in all camps, such as the rednecks who were yelling about killing Obama at Mcain's campaigns.

At virtually every point in the race, race was a factor both in his favour and in the favour of his oppponents.

I doubt that its fair to castigate him on those grounds.

Nice blog/write-up though.

eeman said... u are right about many Nigerians not knowing Obama's policies and some not listening to his speeches. Some Nigerians that listened to his speeches picked and misqouted what they wanted of his speech. someone told me that Obama was gonna grant amesty to any immigrant in the country as at his inuaguartion.Can u beat that?