Wednesday, November 05, 2008
American Politics Through Canadian Eyes
I'm a pretty staunch Canadian nationalist, and I've spent a good portion of my life convincing myself that I don't care at all about what happens in the States. Obviously, as I've gotten older and my worldview has developed, I've realized how foolish that is, and I followed the 2008 presidential race pretty closely for someone who didn't even get to cast a ballot.
Canada just came through an election that few wanted, to the tune of $300 million, and it has been fascinating to contrast that process with what I've seen unfold in the US. We were sluggish and apathetic, lacking leadership in a time where it could have made all the difference. The status quo remains here. The Americans, by contrast, are fiery and energized. People care. Voter turn out was awesome, inspite of a million difficulties.
And Barack Obama was elected.
I watched the election coverage by myself, knitting away on a toddler sweater. The first few hours were so tense for me that I had to keep changing the channel every few minutes (perhaps CNN's Election Night in America music had something to do with this) but as more and more states went blue, I was able to relax and just enjoy. At 11 p.m., when CNN declared for Obama, I lost it. I cried. Watching the reactions of everyone gathered in Chicago, and in the studio, and in Ebenezer Baptist Church was truly awe inspiring.
John McCain's concession speech was very classy. I know some have expressed the idea that it was written by someone else, and not necessarily something he believed, but I think he did an excellent job of selling it. He behaved very graciously and spoke very eloquently. (Just out of curiosity, does his voice remind anyone else of Andy Rooney's?)
Obama's speech had me tearing up again. It served to showcase all of his best qualities, and again, watching the crowd's response to him was as heartwarming as actually watching him. I'm so happy his daughters get a puppy. His story about 106 year old Ann Nixon Cooper was especially strong. It is easier to believe in the future now. I have hope.
One of my more politically inclined friends told me a few months ago that Stephen Harper timed his election to avoid being conflated with the American election, in fear that an Obama victory might turn the tide against the Conservative Party here in Canada, and I have to say that I think he's probably right about that. (So, unfortunately, was Stephen Harper--I don't think Obama's victory would have done anything good for his party.)
Here's to the future, everyone. Regardless of your politics, let us believe that things can only get better from here.