Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Full disclosure: the title for this post was shamelessly foisted from that of The Economist's most recent issue, which endorses Senator Barack Obama for the Presidency of the United States.
It's almost midnight, Beijing time, on Tuesday, November 4. By noon tomorrow, the results of America's epic presidential contest should be known to the world. Most observers have all but declared Senator Obama the victor, and Chinagreenspace (CGS) will assume no differently. So in the gravity of the moment, it's worth enduring a bit of mission creep for CGS to consider the world's future under an Obama Administration.
Four hundred years after the first slave ship landed in America, forty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Americans have chosen a black man to lead them through the tumult of war and recession. For their salvation, they have looked to the son of a Kenyan immigrant, brought up in Indonesia with the middle name of "Hussein." Americans of forty years ago, or of only four, would have shaken their heads in stunned disbelief. But today, they have handed Mr. Obama the keys to the White House.
It's almost a wonder that he still wants them. The junior senator from Illinois will face perhaps the greatest set of political challenges since the Roosevelt Administration, and with one of the thinnest political resumes of any modern president. The one decided advantage Mr. Obama is set to enjoy-- an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress-- could prove to be his Achilles' heel. If he proves incapable of resisting Congressional demands to govern from the political left, Mr. Obama may well lead his party to disaster in the 2010 mid-term elections. Mr. Obama has promised Hope and Change to a desperate nation. If he fails to deliver, the bursting of America's financial bubble may be followed by the popping of a psychological one. Challenges, then, all around.
Barack Obama has defied all expectations to become the next President of the United States. He may face even longer odds to be a good one.
Yet for all the uncertainty, we should be grateful that Mr. Obama will soon take the oath of office. On the eve of the election, Senators Obama and McCain wrote opposing editorials in The Wall Street Journal, each endorsing their own respective candidacies. Senator McCain: "we cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change...We have to fight for it." Senator Obama: "If there's one thing we've learned from this economic crisis, it's that we are all in this together...together, we will change this country and change the world." So there it is: curl up your fist, or lend a hand.
Curling up your fist won't knock out the cancer of terror. It won't cow financial markets into docile submission. And it won't pound the global thermostat back to pre-industrial levels. But with a lot of help from your friends-- and you'll need quite a few-- you just might wipe out the root causes of extremism, jump-start global investment flows, and broker a global agreement to build a sustainable society. And after we've all seen the Twin Towers fall, watched our banks crumble, and felt the planetary temperature rise, that's the best hope we have.
Barack Obama deserves our thanks for giving us that much. But all else is now up to him.