Wednesday, November 05, 2008

1:42 PM

America Votes!

Edit 1 (7/11 5.16pm): Extended comment at the end of this post on the election.

A real historic moment today. An African-American has been elected into the US White House for the first time in the 232 years of American history. For a minority candidate whose race was once discriminated less than half a century ago to be elected to the highest political office in the his country, shows how successful a democracy can be.

Watch in awe at the speeches of both candidates for an event that would be remembered for many generations to come.

Obama's victory speech


McCain's concession speech



A live widget showing US election projection and actual results as they come in.



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"It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America. "

Its this particular paragraph of Obama's victory speech that struck me the most. Even after months and years of bruising debates ( Round one, two, three and VP) and squabbles over domestic and foreign policy issues, the victor of most if not all American politicians always turns around and addresses the nation and his opponent to unite once more. As usual, Obama does it so splendidly in making the point that it is every single citizen in a country that makes a politician and not the other way round.

His win signifies more than just a "desire for change" of Americans. Its a victory for the democratic ideal in general. In the past eight years and especially when Bush was reelected in 2004, the world and many Americans felt the US and the pride of attaining the American dream was steadily going downhill. The belief that a democracy would "self correct" slowly waned. This occurred in the midst of rapidly growing Russian authoritarian democracy and the Chinese market-oriented socialism. Anti-Bush and even anti-American chants suddenly became the "in" thing for the young around the world. With Obama soon to hold the reins of the most powerful nation on Earth, such scepticism of the democratic ideal and the American people can be put to rest.

As a 47 year-old 1st term Junior Senator of Illinois and just serving eight years in the Illinois state Senate, he has been widely criticised for being too young and inexperienced to serve as president. Our very own Minister Mentor in this article also implied the very same message in this February interview. He even mentioned that Obama was a "flash in a pan". Oh well, as wayangparty describes, Lee was also an Obama of Singapore when he took power at the age of 35. What really matters the most in my view is the attitude in which a politician conducts himself. More experience is good, but it can be honed in time.

During the interim, he can seek the advice of the many experienced advisors or Cabinet members as he is choosing now. The president is like a leader of the team leading the country. He may not be the most qualified, but as long as he has the attitude and the leadership qualities, his experienced team more than makes up for his shortcomings. Attitude and desire to serve the country's interest are irreplaceable. The American citizens sense that he has both and voted him in. Lets hope they sense correctly.

Talk so much, what about McCain? He did a good job too. He lost not because he was incapable but mostly of circumstances out of his control with exception to his choice of running mate. With the economic iron ball tied to his left and the George Bush ball tied to his right, it was virtually impossible to run or even walk. As one commentator puts it, if he wins the election, he should be able to easily defeat Usain Bolt. His gracious concession speech shows his true colours after the dust has settled. Colours I can bet, our Singaporean politicians hardly even possess.

The American people placed their chips in the hands of Obama for him to take their country out of their current state and bring it to new heights. I sincerely hope for his sake as the first African-American president, the leadership of the United States in international affairs and the security of the world, he better do an appreciable job at the end of his first term. After all, if I am an eligible citizen of the US, like the 52% of Americans, he has my early vote of confidence.

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