21 January 2009

A Day When History Was Made

I had everything set. The kids would get home from school and we’d sit down in front of the telly and watch history being made as Barack Obama was sworn in to be President of the USA.

 But Murphy’s Law, which states that if something can go wrong it will, kicked in. Some idiot with a chainsaw (no, not me) cut a tree down and straight through the power lines it went, cutting off the whole of Cupples’ Mountain. For three whole hours we were without heating, lighting, the telly and worst of all, the internet, but as we ‘suffered’ we were aware that a whole new chapter was starting in the good old US of A.

We’ve watched it for about a year now. The rise and rise of Barack Obama. The unknown senator, who has probably the most willing and hopeful nation in history behind him as he becomes the 44th President. Maybe Americans don’t know this, but Barack is given enormous TV coverage in the UK. After Bush, who was tied to the oil companies and didn’t seem to care who knew it and who nobody seemed to trust, Barack has managed to get the world excited by his ‘man of the people’ persona, his perceived honesty and his common sense.

He probably has the highest expectation on his shoulders than any incoming leader in history. This African American has pledged to ‘unite the nation’ and rid the US of the many inequalities which exist in its society, but time will tell what he actually manages to achieve.

I’m not being overly pessimistic in saying this. At the end of the day, no matter how powerful he is, and what sort of mandate he takes into the Oval Office with him, the establishment will often dictate which route he takes and how fast he takes it.

What is the establishment? In the US, I suppose it’s Congress (or The Senate) plus all the President’s advisers and holders of the various Offices of State. Then there are the big business interests (oil, automobiles etc) and possibly the Unions.

In the UK, they say it doesn’t really matter when Government changes from Conservative to Labour as it’s the Civil Service who actually run the country. OK, there are some changes of flavour and emphasis but at the end of the day, the guy with the grey suit and the grey hair, who sits in Whitehall with his job for life and inflation proofed pension will actually determine what we do and when we will do it.

But back to Obama. The whole world, with the possible exception of some of the ‘terrorist states’, is willing him to do well. If ever a man came upon the scene and had the mandate, and the personality, to unite not only America, but the world, then it is he.

Americans probably are not aware of this but we Brits, and I’m being a bit presumptuous here, are more hopeful and optimistic of Barack than we are of our own leaders.

It’s going to be a wonderful ride and we’re all aboard.


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