Wednesday, 5 November 2008

a new president

wow. what an amazing day. america has elected its first black president, and it feels like the whole world is rejoicing.

i ended up driving to auckland to attend the event at the american consulate. i left at 3pm, when the result was uncertain. by 4 o'clock, it was almost decided but too late to turn back. i'm glad i went though. it was an excellent place to watch senator mccain's concession speech and president-elect obama's speech.

there were plenty of people at the event, many were supporting obama. madame shipley turned up. and judith tizard sailed in, in that rather regal manner that she has. there was also david skilling from that right-wing think-tank. i didn't quite have the courage to wear my labour party rosette, which was a good thing because one woman told me she wouldn't have talked to me had i worn it. the one thing you can say about national party supporters is that they're consistent!

i met the consul-general of canada. they've just had their elections, and she was surprised at how little coverage it had generated. i guess that the leadership of canada just doesn't have the same impact on global events that the american leadership does. i also talked to a couple of staff members from the irish consulate. i found it interesting that when their PM stepped down last year, the whole country voted on who would be the next PM.

but i honestly just couldn't wipe the smile off my face all evening. and the speech by mr obama was great. i was sitting with an american woman who works at auckland uni, both of us obama supporters. we both had tears in our eyes as we watched the speech. i could feel the weight of history, of a very special moment.

mr mccain spoke really well too. in fact, most of us were in agreement that it was the best speech of his campaign. if we could have seen more of that side of him during the campaign, there might have been a different result.

one wierd thing i noticed at the consulate was that, for a long time, i was the only coloured person there. once mr obama's speech was over, i saw another person of indian origin, and that was it - out of at least 70 people watching a person of colour become president.

i got home to see the end of the leaders' debate on tv1. i was surprised at how tired mr key was looking. and it was so nice that they each got the chance to be heard without the constant talking over each other. a much better job by mark sainsbury. under those conditions, it seemed so clear that the PM is superior to mr key.

if mr key thinks that mr obama's victory is good news for him, he must be dreaming. the only parallel he can draw is that americans voted for a change so nz'ers will too. does he really think that no-one will actually think about what kind of change americans have voted for? as gordon campbell reported:

ABC News asked a sample of voters earning $200,000 or more whether they would vote for someone who had pledged to raise their taxes. Answer, yes they would - by a margin of 53 - 45 %.

america has shifted firmly to the left, away from right-wing policies and away from everything that mr key stands for. if he wants to pull out these kinds of parallels, then i have one too. we could say americans have pulled off an historic result and if nz'ers vote in miss clark for a fourth term, then we will have pulled off an historic result.


blue milk said...

It was such an exciting result hey.

Julie said...

It was awesome. Interesting to read your perspective as a person of colour in a largely white room, watching that history being made. :-)

Ben R said...

"Interesting to read your perspective as a person of colour in a largely white room, watching that history being made. :-)"

I guess white isn't a colour? Don't worry, in 30 years whites will be the minority in the US & you won't be seeing many more white presidents.

stargazer said...

ooh, that's snarky ben. for the first time in the long history of a very racist country, they have elected a person of colour as president, and this is the best you can do? and yes, PoC is the term that we non-whitey's prefer, if that's ok with you (and even if isn't). big chip on shoulder seems to be weighing you down a bit.

Hugh said...

The Irish directly elect their PM? That's weird, I've never heard of that... and Wikipedia seems to disagree.