Like me, you may have become fascinated – obsessed, even – with the presidential election in the United States.
Some might think that the levels of money being raised are obscene. To that perspective, I’d counter that people’s participation rather than corrupt secret deals is the cause. Others may think that no politician can be honourable. To this perspective, I’d counter that we’re all human but that some are better than others.
I believe this election is the most important the world will know for a very long time. The stakes are the highest they have been.
Can the growing sectarian conflict in the world, that’s embroiled with American foreign policy, be reversed? Can the rhetoric of intolerance, and the belief that might is right, be overcome? Can the political will be generated to address global warming, and other seemingly intractable issues like the rising food prices globally? America can shine a light and do something positive to address each of these questions.
In sum, this election may be the last time that any one nation state has the chance to prevent the erosion of human civilisation as we know it. It’s about sustainability in its deepest sense.
Now I don’t believe any one individual alone can solve these issues. However, the president of the United States, as of 2008, sure sets the tone and leads by example in how to go about addressing them.
If it’s about anything in particular, I’d suggest the election is about the ability to manage amidst complexity.
McCain, unfortunately for him and the Republican Party, has the wrong policies. Clinton has the wrong decision-making approach.
To my mind, the tortuous Democratic nomination campaign reflects the labour pains of a new kind of politics, one that Senator Barack Obama seems the better able to appreciate. Obama has, broadly speaking, both the right policies and the right decision-making approach. (For those who missed it the first time, read Andrew Sullivan’s article, The New Face of America, published in the Times.) That is, of course, from my point of view, but I believe he gives people confidence that he is able to handle, grapple with, and forge pathways through complexity.
Like many others of his supporters, I was disappointed that Clinton won the Pensylvania primary, but I wasn’t surprised. Not only was it predicted and she heavily favoured. If you think about it, anything big that tries to be born has long and drawn-out labour pains.
An important part of the new politics is the grass-roots organising going on, facilitated by the internet. The fundraising has been staggering. The ability to reflect and share ideas and perspectives on the campaign, online, is also formidable. Candidate’s supporters in a very real sense are guiding where the campaign goes. The feedback from a candidate’s speech to a supporter’s online donation can be immediate.
Innovatively, an American NGO, MoveOn.org, which has endorsed Obama, is currently hosting an online competition for the best ‘Obama in 30 Seconds‘ advert. I’ve watched a few now, engrossed in how keen people have been to express themselves in aid of a political campaign.
Something I have found heartening has been how people have been effected when they have met Obama in person, heard him speak at rallies, and have had a chance to size him up; like here.
Here are four of my overall favourites
And my vote would be for ‘My Name Is Barack Obama – Afraid’