It has been a very long time since I’ve had any interest in politics whether it’s local or world.
I was damn disappointed and angry with local politics because frankly there’s no party to support IMHO. There’s no one with a clear vision, all leaping from one party to other in a blink of an eye just for political or personal gains, democracy has become a joke with some ministers, Police has become just a tool of the government to control the opposition, people looking at television while live crimes being telecast…so the list goes on.
I was throughly fed up with international politics also mainly because of activities of Bush administration in US. Whether we like or not U.S. always had a say in where the world was heading in recent history and world seemed to be going on the wrong trail with Bush leading the way to the gates of hell. Invading other countries and later saying “Oops sorry, it was a mistake. Our evidences were bunch of lies“, hell-bent on trying to destroy the environment like it was Bin Laden, torture camps and secret prisons, possibility of a war with Iran..and this list also goes on.
So it was refreshing to see some new movements in politics and of course I’m talking about the intense US election that came to an end in last week. I was somewhat intrigued by this Obama guy when I heard about his ideas and his background at the beginning of this year. At that time he was in tough primaries with Sen. Hilary Clinton who most believed is the de facto for 2008 nominations from Democratic party (of course I’m talking from what I saw from news), but that seemed the general consensus. So it was a great surprise to see him winning primaries and hearing him talking at Democratic convention in last August accepting the nomination.
But the bump in polling (I usually follow Gallup) that followed after the Democratic convention was soon ended with the Republican convention in the coming week and McCain seemed to be winning. I thought this will be a repetition of 2004 or 2000 where Democratics were ahead in days before the election and losing it at the end. Talking about McCain, he seemed to be a traditional politician, talking to people like children, going after slogans, changing positions all time, doing a rash choice for a running mate and continuing same Bush policies in almost every aspect, saying things like “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”…which clearly didn’t give any good feeling about the guy (Btw, I had had enough of hearing the word ‘Maverick’ in last few weeks).
On the other hand the position Obama took clearly impressed me. First and foremost his ideology about Iraq war (he opposed it since its beginning), his idea for a more peaceful world, getting away from ‘Shoot first ask second” system, more understanding with Muslim countries…so IMO he was the better choice for the future of the world.
Also the way he ran his campaign really impressed me and gave a good indication that he can handle tough situations well (with the global economic crisis it certainly won’t be a walk in the park. Although I don’t believe Obama nor any other single person will be able to solve this mess). I have never seen a politician using the power of web to such an extreme level to get to the voters like done by Obama’s campaign. Since he had been campaigning for nearly 2 years, he had a massive user base around his web site and he used that very effectively for almost everything ranging from organizing community activities, canvasing, fighting smears, carrying his message globally, GOTV campaigns and what not. Also he had realized the importance of viral marketing and used all popular social networks and micro blogging services like Twitter to their fullest limits. According to recent numbers he had more than 100K followers in Twitter and about a million users in Facebook.
So finally when election results started coming in last Wednesday morning it seemed all projected Toss-up states like Virginia, Indiana and Florida which he had been leading in polls going the other way around. But within few minutes results of PA came and a bit after that Ohio came and the game was set. Then after some time I watched the historical acceptance speech by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama and it was truly a beautiful sight.
We have been reading about legends of Mahatma Gandhi and Civil right movements of Martin Luther King, Jr in world history and how it changed the world. To me the last US election could be seen as another changing moment in the history after 100 years later or become just another lost chance. According to Arthur C. Clarke (I’m taking from his 3001-space odyssey) as human civilization evolves there should be less violence because of greater understanding and increased intelligence. I truly hope this new “Change” will be a turning point of the world in to a global peaceful environment even though at the moment it’s looking pretty gloomy.
Btw, I thought of writing how US election can relate to Sri Lankan context also (there are many similarities, differences and a thing or two that we can try to adapt) but it will be insanely long if it added up to this already elongated post so I’ll post that later separately.