Monday, November 10, 2008

Yes we could - by Daddy J

Five days on it's still sinking in. I didn't dare believe my luck when they reassigned me from McCain HQ in Arizona to Chicago for election night. I thought I had probably jinxed the entire Obama campaign. But I didn't - I was there for the ultimate "I was there" moment. Didn't get the t-shirt - I'm supposed to be part of the dispassionate BBC after all - but I guess a badge and a handful of indelible memories will do.

In fact, merchandise is a key element of the Obama phenomenon. I was dispatched to interview the Obama army as they queued to get into Grant Park in the unseasonably balmy dusk and the atmosphere was much more rock concert than political rally - hot dog stands, self-conscious trendies and memorabilia stalls that would put the Stones to shame. The festival vibe continued in the makeshift arena inside the park complete with VIP zone (Spike, Brad and Oprah were all there), big screens, and fainting teenage girls being pulled from the crowd.

It was all a bit difficult to get used to. I'm used to doing "cool" stuff during my down time of course (fatherhood notwithstanding), but my working life is supposed to be, well, serious. It's not that I've never enjoyed what I do, its just that I've always thought of it as a bit niche and nerdy - and here I was with the hottest ticket in town. Turns out Obama's made politics cool. 

Even more paradoxically, despite delivering the biggest landslide for the Democrats since 1964, it also strikes me that Obama has done a huge disservice to left wing politics. I'd lost count of the number of people I've spoken to in Europe and over here who thought an Obama presidency impossible because "they" would never let it happen. Some fingered the corporations who rigged the 2000 election for Bush and were now producing voting machines that somehow turned votes for the Democrat into votes for McCain - a favorite complaint among Obama footsoldiers. Others - more popular abroad this one - thought that the spooks who run the American war machine would see to it that Mr Obama would meet some kind of accident. 

But Obama's win blows the conspiracy theories out of the park. It turns out that, in America at least, individual talent and determination can defeat established interests. So while conservatives may have lost control of the US government, they can console themselves that their view of how the world works could have had no more effective endorsement. 

1 comment:

hands said...

what does Louis make of the outcome of all that other stuff being voted on 4th, re gay marriage etc?