i still recall clearly watching mr obama win back in 2008. this time i watched the results at the home of a friend born in america, with a wide range of nz'ers, many born in the US or having lived there for some time. there were plenty of people of colour in the room, most of indian ethnicity, and plenty of white people too. but all obama supporters, and democrats. it was great to be in that room, watching mr romney concede & mr obama give his rousing speech. sure, there were bits of the latter which were annoying, but mostly it was inspiring.
i agree with gordon campbell regarding the voting system in the US:
Actually, the sight on CNN of long lines of people waiting patiently to exercise their right to vote seems quite shameful, in the richest country on earth. The lines remind me of the elections in South Africa in their first free election, in 1994. People there waited in the sun for twelve, fifteen hours or more to exercise the precious right to vote. But in the US? It has put people on the moon. It spent hundreds of billions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more hundreds of billions in bailing out the financial system. Yet when it comes to democratic choice, it runs a ramshackle voting system that looks as though it is being managed by Hamid Karzai. Bureaucratic hurdles, not enough voting machines in working order, long voting lines etc…terrible.
it is indeed terrible that voting is so difficult in some places, and all credit to those people who stayed in line to cast their vote. it was interesting that the that when i left work in the afternoon, the top trending twitter topic worldwide was #stayinline. mr obama did mention in his speech that this was something that needs to be addressed, and i really hope he is able to do it.
mr obama has pulled ahead in the popular vote, but part of me was hoping that he would win the electoral college but lose the popular vote. the only reason for this is that it might have given impetus to both sides of the political divide to move towards a fairer electoral system. but as it is, i don't think that's going to happen.
another interesting observation tonight was that mr obama didn't make mr romney's religion a target in this election. which is, of course, the right thing to do, and something i wrote about here. i suspect the main reason for this is because mr obama is consistently attacked about his own religious beliefs, with a depressing number of people still believing he is muslim. i guess he just didn't want to open that particular can of worms. but had it been the democratic candidate who was mormon, i do believe that the same would not have applied. the right-wing so eager to denounce mr obama as a muslim (and also to denounce muslims in general in pursuit of their political aims) would have been equally eager to attack mr romney's religion had he been democrat.
but on the whole, i want to congratulate my american friends, and the american public on a great result in the presidential elections. i really hope something good (or many good things) comes of it.
ETA: best tweet of the night (sorry i don't know how to put the actual thing in):
Hey Todd Atkin it looks like females can shut the whole thing down if they want to.
also, another thing i missed from the post, is that i hope all those court cases the democrats started today against some pretty dodgy decisions and practices around opening hours and last minute changes to electoral rules still go ahead. just because mr obama has won doesn't mean those issues aren't still important and those practices don't have to be challenged.