It seems safe to say that the next president of the U.S. will be Barak Obama. If the polls are right his lead over McCain is too great to be stolen. I think there is a pretty good chance that the past two elections were stolen, but that was only possible because the votes for each candidate were so close. Obama had to get an insurmountable lead, and it looks like he has done it. But the past has shown that anything can happen; I’m not going to open the champagne yet, but it is chilling.
Yesterday I saw a sign on a downtown Penticton business (the big hotel/casino, no less) that said “Goodbye George, Hello Obama.” Canadian polls show that Obama is wildly popular in this country; in fact Canadians prefer him two to one over their own leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (a conservative who has been called a clone of George Bush.)
This morning the CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Company, similar to NPR in the US) talked with a number of foreign correspondents in Europe and elsewhere. Obama is a clear and overwhelming favorite outside the US, much more so than in the US. But the people in other countries don’t have a vote; they can only hope that this time Americans will make the right choice. One correspondent said it was a chance for redemption.
So, will Canadians and the rest of the world have Obama envy? Will the people of other countries look for their own Obama? Perhaps. I have to wonder about the future of a Bush clone here in Canada. The Bush years may have caused a shift to the right in Europe (and a shift to the left in Latin America). It will be interesting to see what an Obama administration will have on global politics and culture.
The US has burnt many bridges during the Bush administration; the Obama administration will begin rebuilding them. I think the rest of the world will see President Obama as a fresh start and there will be a renewal of good will from other countries that have grown increasingly negative towards the US over the past eight years.
But in spite of high hopes and expectations, it will not be easy. Obama is inheriting a huge mess, with the tanking economy and two foreign wars. And the domestic ideological war will continue. Republicans will resume their dog in the manger role, trying to sabotage the Democratic administration (it is what they do best; they’ve proven they can’t govern.)
But I think we’re at the beginning of a new era. Finally.