So… what next?

So… he won! Well done America.

It’s quite impressive; black people in America make up 13% of the population (I got this from Google so it might not be right!) and 13% of 44 presidents is 5.7, so they’re only a couple behind now. A couple of women and Latinos elected and then they will be the most equal nation ever.

Think how many Prime Ministers we’ve had and we’ve only ever had white middle class men*. We are loads behind.

Let’s hope he does a good job. The biggest reservation I have is that his entourage have billed him as a kind of transcendental politician. He’s probably just an ordinary guy.

I’ve read his book, he’s got a lot of good stuff to say. I hope he (a) wants to and (b) is allowed to do some of the stuff he talks about in it. Good luck, Barack.

* Doesn’t count and you know it.

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10 thoughts on “So… what next?

  1. We’ve had quite a few white upper class men over the years too, you know.

    I have to confess to being slightly uneasy that so many are hailing this as a wonderful day because America has finally managed to vote in a black president. Quite a few have expressed sentiments along the lines of “yay – we managed to get a black man in”. It strikes me that that’s a dangerously poor reason to vote for someone.

  2. I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of achievement. In other words, just because black people make up 13% of the population doesn’t mean that they should provide 13% of presidents – the president should be the best person for the job regardless of race, sex, or whatever.

    That said, the first black (or female) president remains significant, but only because it represents a breaking through a barrier – in much the same way that being the first man on the moon is significant, but being the 20th isn’t to anywhere near the same extent. It shows that it actually is possible to be a black president, where previously there was always the question: is it really?

    The other thing to consider is this: far fewer black people (and women) go into politics in any serious manner than middle class white men do. Likewise, working class folk, poor people, or whatever else. This almost guarantees that far fewer really good politicians will come from these groups. That being the case, it’s a good thing that we don’t blindly assign our leaders based on some bizarre quota system, since we’d end up being led by Rosie Kane or Hazel Blears.

    In other words, in order to truly get a more equal share of political power, we must first work towards getting more people from the less represented groups involved in the first place, thus getting more quality candidates from these groups, and allowing for more opportunity for their to be black presidents, female prime ministers, or whatever else.

    Because as long as white middle class men represent the best candidates for our leaders (and, despite my contempt for the currently available options, that is indeed the case in the UK at present), I will not apologise for continuing to vote for white middle class men. And as long as the roll of female MPs and MSPs consists of a who’s-incompetent, I will not apologise for showing them all the respect they deserve.

  3. Ric – America had the chance to vote in a black president before, when Jesse Jackson ran. But my understanding is that he was a bit crap, so he didn't get voted in. (There was some other woman that ran before too, I forget her name but for whatever reason, she was rejected also).

    There may be people who voted for him *because* he is black, who made the type of comments you refer to, but that would not have been enough for him to win by the margin he did.

    The way I see it, Obama got voted in because he represents a change in terms of the way the country is run and the type of man we have running it. He's young (for a politician), charismatic, and extremely intelligent and well-spoken, and concerns himself with more than the needs of big business and the wealthy. All characteristics that neither Bush or McCain seem to have. The fact that he has darker skin than any other president so far is irrelevant to his competency as president.

    However, it is still inspiring that virtually within his own lifetime, Americans have gone from segregation & oppression to electing a black President by an astonishingly huge margin.

  4. Good point re the upper classes Mr Richard. Bit of a startling omission there!

    I do perhaps feel that you are confusing two separate things though. It is okay to be pleased that America has voted in a black man and be separately pleased that they have voted in Barack Obama specifically because of his policies.

    25% of past presidents could have owned a man of his colour skin, which makes it a really startling result. But also, he does seem like he might be a bit of a departure for American politics, as he is less beholden to Big Business lobbyists (I think… we’ll see!).

    Maybe that’s why Democrats are whipping themselves into a frenzy – excitement at Obama the symbol winning, and excitement about Obama the man winning. (On the same day as well!)

    Who knows?

    Stephen: me too. I hope everyone does, although of course they don’t.*

    And I hope no-one’s asking you to apologise for voting for a middle class white man (unless it’s David Cameron).

    Belle du Sud, it seems you have made some of the points above already. Sorry for plagiarising you.

    It is quite inspiring, I agree. I wonder if he’ll do well?

    I remember seeing an interview with Morgan Freeman when he was the President in “Deep Impact” and he joked that the only time a black man got to be president was when the world gets hit by an asteroid and everyone dies.

    Looking at the state of America at the moment (economy and international reputation in tatters and coming under increasing fire from ecologists) I can’t say I envy Barack Obama the top job at the moment! But I am sure he will do well!

    * candidate for stupidest sentence ever… sorry!

  5. Anyway, enough of this American rubbish…

    … did you see the Glenrothes by-election result?!

    Good grief!

  6. Chris – no I wasn’t confusing two different things. I understand that if people voted for Mr Obama because he was the best candidate, and he also happens to be black, then, yes, there is cause for celebration because he is the first black president.

    However, if people voted for him because he is black, then, plain and simple, they voted for him for the wrong reasons (and, indeed, reasons that Mr Obama, I’m sure, wouldn’t want people to use to vote for him [although, like most politicians, he’ll be glad of the vote wherever it comes from]).

    The reports that I saw indicated that the latter was the case.

    However … Southernbelle – congratulations on managing to convince me and change my mind. You are right that people voting for him for the wrong reason is probably not enough to give him the convincing victory that he achieved. Therefore, I’m forced to conclude that although there were some who voted for the wrong reasons, there were many who voted for him because they thought him to be the better candidate. I guess it’s just high emotions linked with irresponsible broadcasting that has suggested otherwise.

    Well done America on bringing itself to a point where a black man could be voted in. I do wish that even one of the states that Martin Luther King referred to in his speech had voted for Obama – all of them went republican (although not by anywhere near the majority that they would have in Dr King’s life). However, a good day for equality in America, and hopefully they’ve chosen the right guy for the job.

  7. The Glenrothes result wasn’t a big shock, although the magnitude of it was pretty surprising. Just as the economy was the destruction of McCain, it has been the salvation of Brown. Also, I think people have realised that an independent Scotland at the moment might well be in a worse state than Iceland.

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