Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Wins

I remember, eight years ago when news filtered of Bush winning the 2000 election. Most of my Muslim friends in the US had been ardent supporters of the Republican ticket, driven mostly by anti-semitism (I fear) caused by the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

It was a long fight, but ultimately Gore conceded. I remember it rained on inauguration day. Thousands of protesters lined up to snarl at Bush's parade. Under black umbrellas and dark clouds, Bush took the oath of office, and an equally dark chapter began in America's history.

I remember, four years ago, when I stayed with CNN late in the night, hoping the result would turn, and then, on getting up in the morning, finding that Kerry had conceded the election. My mind thought the thought that an English paper The Daily Mirror had printed so eloquently - "How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?".

Yesterday, at 11 pm, as CNN made the historic projection, it seemed as if America had finally laid the ghosts of the Bush regime to rest.

Whereas the night had been dark and gloomy eight years ago, last night was crisp, bright, clear. The weather, as if on cue, was brilliant and unseasonably warm.

The celebrations - I have seen nothing like it following a political election. It was as if a team had won the World Series, or a country had won the World Cup. A colleague remarked to me this profound though, "I think the American people, whether they knew it or not, were oppressed. And they could feel it. For the last eight years, their freedoms have been suppressed, and their many rights slowly taken away, and their nation pillaged. Yesterday, something changed."

Now, as the USA embarks on a new era, I am reminded once more as to why, despite its many faults, America still remains a leader amongst nations, a truly great country, and a shining example of its ideals to the rest of the world.


Musa said...

I remember how I was one of the few Muslims who wanted a Gore victory in 2000; Never understood those who thought GWB whould be good for Muslims......

And while its great to see Obama break the barriers, whats depressing is that 47% of voters thought the "republican way" was the better one for their country, i.e. abortion and guns being the main issues

And even more alarmingly, a majority of white voters chose McCain other words they preferred the status quo than having a change where President "looks" different.

Obama has been accused by many of being a Communist, and now he is also accused (by some right wingers) of orchestrating his grandmom's death to garner sympathy votes.........

boba said...

"...last night was crisp, bright, clear. The weather, as if on cue, was brilliant and unseasonably warm."

If only for one night. Who knows what the skies bring us in the next four years. I'm not a cynic, rather realistic. YES, it's a big step to elect a half black man as President, but wasn't he just the lesser evil?

My two cents.

mezba said...

Musa: those who supported Bush mostly got scared by Gore's running mate and actually Muslims are pretty conservative themselves - Bush was for anti-abortion, so-called 'family values', tax cuts etc. They didn't look at the big picture. At that time Liberman wasn't the weasel he is today and a Gore presidency would have been much better.

Plus I think you gotta vote as American first and look at ALL the issues.

Boba: I hope he is not. I know political campaigns can take us all in as suckers, but I really think Obama has his head screwed in right.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree with what you said in comment#3: he's got his head screwed on right.

As a Pakistani, I can say that I'm sure NO American would understand what's going on here right now, everyone expects that a 'good' American president would be one who hands Pakistan aid money on a plate and stops bombing the tribal areas and inadvertently escalating the situation within the country..that's not gonna happen. The Americans have to safeguard their interests so we might as well be happy that Americans voted for the better of the two. McCain is extremely stupid and seems the original red neck.

We have a saying in Urdu: An intelligent enemy is better than a foolish friend... and I believe in that.

Go Obama, I say!

Ahmed said...

I'm really happy that Obama won. And I too think "he's got his head screwed on right" but whether it really translates into positive change...I'm still only cautiously optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Obama did get my vote. however, it was ONLY because he was lesser of the two (or three) evils. And that is how most people saw it. It is not about being black or yellow or purple. It was just that, could we really see Palin as our VP? Or McCain as our President, who is definitely better than GWB, but still a war-monger. Obama is no good news for the muslims in the Middle East. In some cases, he sounds harsher than GWB as far as Palestine is concerned. But which is a bigger problem for us now? Palestine, or more immediate problems of Iraq war and Afghanistan war?

-a helpless American voter.

Anonymous said...

oh, and I also wanted to add, I voted Obama for his domestic policies, which were MUCH better than anyone else's. In terms of foreign policy, Washington is Washington. There is not going to be much change in there.
-the same hopeless/helpless American voter

Suroor said...

And we all win with him.

Anonymous said...

Well, he was a better choice than McCain. Let's hope something gets done. sf

mezba said...

Misspecs: Well he was reading Fareed Zakaria's book so I guess he can't be that bad. I think he is very liberal. But ultimately any government in the USA has to move to the centre. Which sort of sucks coz Obama has potential, he has control of the house and senate for the next 2 years, so he can practically pass whatever legislation he wants.

I actually don't mind him bombing the tribal areas of Pakistan. the NATO needs to come out more strongly against the Taleban.

Ahmed: I too am cautiously optimistic. Politicians have left me very cynical. "We" got him elected, now the ball is in his court, let's see what he does.

a helpless American voter: the key is to get involved in local politics all the time (not just once every four years) and keep on voting, staying on message and raising issues and being involved politically. With the number of muslims they can't ignore you for long!

Suroor: I agree. I also liked McCain's concession speech. Quite different from how things are done in Bangladesh where the losers accuse the winners of stealing the election, boycotting parliament and causing strikes.

Sf: for sure!

Anonymous said...

Your colleague's comment is right on the money.

Thank you so much for this post - insh'Allah we remain engaged as citizens to protect our rights and democracy. We've seen over the past 8 years what happens when we don't.

Anonymous said...

By bombing the tribal areas, I meant not the Taliban but the schools and houses and marriage processions that are being 'inadvertently' bombed every other day. That's what I see as escalating Pk's internal tensions.

The Taliban, of course, need to be dealt with with an iron hand. No doubt about that.

mezba said...

Rickshaw Diaries: iA! Now I had a dream last night - he appointed Fareed Zakaria as Secretary of State. Haha, oh well.

Miss Specs: Yup, they must stop collateral damage.

Ahmad said...

I have never been more prouder to be an American than I was on the even of the 4th.

Aisha said...

I voted for Bush in 2000 because he said in a debate that he was against profiling at airports and against Secret Evidence used to detain people for indefinite periods of time. That is why I voted for him in 2000. Clearly the man lied as the next 8 years have shown, but my reasons were not anti-semitism. With the way Lieberman has been acting lately, in some ways I'm glad he's quite far from any possibilities of being my next president.

Your colleagues words gave me chills. He is right. I wroet tthis in an eralier post that I feel as though eight years of suffocation has finally eased and we are free again. We have hope against surveillance, and other fears that the BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING Bush era brought with it.

I had a question, why did these elections mean so much to those who are not in the US? I am heartened to see it, but also curious!

mezba said...

Ahmad: You know, last year, I wouldn't have thought a black man could ever be elected president of USA, particularly from the Red states. Somehow, Obama has put the race out of the equation. As BBC said today, his election gives America the chance to dream again.

Aisha: One of our Prime Ministers once said that Canada is like the mouse sleeping next to an elephant. If the elephant sneezes, you feel it.

I cannot speak for the rest of the world, but we in Canada do most of our trade with the USA (and vice versa). It helps not to have an idiot in the White House. Personally, I also find it a comfort that stuff we take for granted, like healthcare and social welfare, are those that the USA is now fighting to introduce.

Also, Obama is a Muslim, didn't you know? :-D hehe

Anonymous said...

In answer to Aisha, as Britons, whatever happens in America effects us intensely as we are the first to be effected in the economic stability (many American cooperations have bases in UK that effects large scale employment and financial circulation here) and are seen as firm allies of America, so we become targets of terrorists and therefore see the results of terror at home.