So, it's finally over.
You really can't beat a good old fashioned bit of hype, can you? Whether America made the right choice or not is currently beside the point (in essence because 'the right choice' is a ridiculous thing to try and calculate). But what does matter is that 'America' has chosen Obama - that's right a single man, not a deity or uber-being as we may have occasionally lapsed into thinking He was - to lead the world (so, America) out of the boggy marsh of economic recession and social delapidation that it has been wading through ever since 'America chose' the last time around. Is it just me, or does anyone else see a worrying consistency here?
George Bush Jnr was to be the antithesis to the Clinton years - clean and wholesome, with values that every American could be proud of. Eight years on and Obama is to be the antithesis to the Bush years - clean and wholesome, with values that every American can be proud of. Yes,...YES, that's what this country needs (yell all the fanatics swept up by the loathingly labelled Obamania), real CHANGE. And lest we forget... YES WE CAN!
While it would be foolish to make detailed comparisons between Obama and Bush (particularly at this stage), they did run their campaigns on a remarkably similar platform; that of 'change'. Neither really promised much (and, in most American's eyes, Bush delivered only on that front) but they didn't half promise to not do an awful lot. 'I will not sleep with my political aides' says Bush. Good, well done you. Faithful and wholesome and loeveable George, that's what's needed. 'I will not go to war unnecessarily' pledges Obama. Great, lovely. That sounds like a tip-top idea. Someone who's not a war-monger, brillo, get him in. ('I will not lead this country into recession' chips in McCain, before his aides quietly wheel him back inside and apologise for the old fella who has been under a lot of strain since around January and 'hasn't quite been there' for the last few months before promising that you wont have to see him again for some time.)
My point being that it is sheer genius to base an entire campaign on 'changing' things - and when asked what this change will look like, to deliver a bunch of promises to not do things. I don't plan on going to war or screwing up the economy but that doesn't really qualify me to be the next President, does it? I also don't plan on spouting patriotic nonsense until my eyeballs bleed and spending billions of dollars that could have gone elsewhere on what is little more than a long-running political soap opera; maybe that means i should become King.
I would love to take the 20 central concepts of Obama's acceptance speech and ask what 10 American's that have been cryogenically frozen for the past 18months thought they meant; i'd be surprised if you didn't get 10 much varied responses. He has managed to make himself appeal to all-comers - something that admittedly all politicians attempt to do - but his genius is that he has managed to do it without genuinely specifying anything. McCain was guilty of much the same - moving closer to the centre even when it was obviously too late and when saving face by returning to the right would have perhaps been the best option - but i believe that the fact that Obama actually won rightfully singles him out.
This election has been one sweeping statement after another. It has been reactive, not proactive (despite what Oba may try to tell you). Of course Obama looked at polls before and during his run. Of course he saw Palin and surged forth on her ground. Of course he saw the word 'crisis' in the headlines and returned to messages of hard-work and self-reliance. And, above all, of course he saw Bush's poll-ratings and thought 'change'. Even his Republican competitor (who, as we have all been made tremendously aware, voted with the administration quite a lot) tried the very same thing.
Has it really got to the stage now where politics has become so dumbed-down that we can only speak in sweeping concepts and allow the voter themselves to fill in the gaps? This election has been an ideal-type example in populism for the idiot. If anyone was confused as to the problems with democracy watch the tapes of the last 18 months. 'Decision Time USA 08' represents a continued slide towards formalised idiocracy. Obama may be a good President - i think he can be and i hope he is - but we have to face the fact that the first item on his Presidential CV will be 'won an election in 2008 by saying little, and doing nothing'. Lets hope his eventual legacy proves to be so much more than that.