Reflection on Election

This article is a reflection on the US Presidential Election in 2008, written shortly after.

The election is over, and all the newspapers are hailing this historic moment when America elected an African-American as its next president.

However, let’s not blow this race issue out of proportion. It’s a great achievement of America to have overcome any racism left in them enough to elect an African-American president, but if anyone took that as an issue whilst voting, positive or negative, they are fools.  Besides, in this election, if anything, racism actually counted in Obama’s favour, with 96% of the African-American vote going to him. In the 2004 election, the statistic was 88% to Kerry against 11% Bush amongst African-American voters.  Was this improvement all because of Obama’s policy, or did Obama gain some of that African-American vote simply because of the colour of his skin?  It would be a fool who would consider race over policy in deciding who to vote for.

Now, because I don’t think that race was an issue in this race, I’d like to reflect on what this win really means for America and the world.

Democratic Party Control

With such a commanding majority in the Senate, Congress and with a Democratic President, the Democratic Party is phenominally powerful. Many people, particularly Republicans,would say that this is extremely dangerous, that this “unchecked” power would mean that bad policies would be left practically unopposed.  I think this is a very cynical view.  It shows a certain distrust of the politicians and the process through which acts go through to be passed.  I admit that it may be harder for a Republican to push through their proposals, but they lost the election, that has to be expected! But the Republican voice will still be heard through those politians who do still hold seats and where such policy is relevant and more appropriate, democratic representatives will back it.

Foreign Affairs

The USA has already gained kudos with the rest of the world by electing Barack Obama as its next president, there are very few countries that would be happier to have seen a McCain administration moving into the White House (see this article). However, Obama must keep his promises and demonstrate a cooperative attitude to keep this reputation.  Based on what I have seen – his interviews, the debates and his policies – I think he can do it, but he will need the support of the legislature.

In terms of the war, I think it is great that Obama would like to look at peaceful solutions before rushing into battle.  I think that an effective army is one that works alongside diplomacy in choosing the right course of action.  It seems that for the past few years, the American army have simply been sending soldiers into any regions of the Middle-East that they see a problem with.  This can’t work! In the end, the middle-Eastern culture is too different to the American for them simply to surrender and embrace democracy as though they had always had it.  It doesn’t work like that over there.  They are going to have to discuss with the current leaders and the people to work out how they want to proceed and what the citizens of those places would really benefit from.  If this involves a quick removal of troops from their country, I think that the USA should be ready to do that.

Energy

For the sake of the Election, Obama somewhat abandoned the idea of the USA drilling for oil and promoting Nuclear fuel which his opponent proposed and instead focused on “green” technologies such as wind and solar.  The truth is that the only way for the USA to wean itself off fossil fuels effectively in the relatively short term is to build nuclear power stations.  However, I’m generally a supporter of alternative energy sources and clean technology but the question as to how the election affects this is whether Obama’s investment of clean technologies will include those policies which McCain promoted.  I think they will, and I think this is a good thing.  I think it will begin to put the USA back on track to lead in the enviromental improvement of this world.

Taxes

I don’t know who got the idea that having a government with slightly more social-economic ideals than another would make taxes rise through the roof, but many Americans seem to believe that that is the case.  Only this morning I overheard someone saying that Obama’s would mean that everyone would be getting more taxes.  It wouldn’t.  Just as in Britain when a new government moves into power, the tax structure changes, but the Obama’s tax increase proposals are only going to affect those earning more than $100,000 a year, and I somehow doubt that the student who I overheard will be earning that much in the next 4 years.

Government Spending

Taxes is all linked in with government spending, and the assumption is that Obama’s plan involves lots of projects which would cost the government money and that this would have to come from somewhere, that somewhere being taxes.  Well, in this instance I would say that this is to some extent true, but only because the existing administration’s $700 bn deficit means that further borrowing by the government is pretty much out of the question.  But, a good budget could put this right.  The US pulling out of the middle-East will help – that HUGE defence budget might finally go on something worthwhile, like education, policing and creating better communities.

I would say this, because I don’t believe that killing people is ever an answer to a government and political problem, but logic can also back me up, because if it is assumed that all the money that would have paid for warfare under a continuing war in the middle-East went on say, education in the USA, well then you’ve just created a multi-billion dollar education tax-credit for America with 100% of the money staying in the USA. No US army paying middle-Eastern nations for their food and resources whilst the US occupies their land – the money stays here, the USA, where it belongs.

OK, I think that’s enough

But if you have any comments, please write below.  Please note, however, that I’m a student, not a political analyist or even a journalist, and any of the above could be inaccurate or totally wrong.  It’s just my speculative opinion.

Have fun America!  I believe in you… now.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 11 November, 2008 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    Well said

  2. Posted 12 November, 2008 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    Senators voted today to approve campaign finance reform, giving elections back to all Americans, not just the highest polluting bidder. Stephanie Solar

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