Thursday, 13 November 2008

Election 2008: The Aftermath

I, like apparently a majority of Americans, am happy with the outcome last night. I haven't really been this pleased with an election since the recall of Gray Davis.That having been said, I find my feelings are somewhat mixed on the so-called day after in the reaction to the outcome. In watching the Simple Simons on CNN (Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper) "analyse" the outcome, it troubles me that they pick "winners" and "losers," and even more, that the "winners" include "minorities."Setting aside that Obama himself in his terrific victory speech re-iterated that the time for splitting the country into us and them is over, putting people into groups such as "minorities" is tremendously deflating.

First, what is a "minority?" Do they mean Black Americans? Surely, most people understand that the Black/White dichotomy no longer really applies. It is frankly, WAY past time to stop forcing an obsolescent model on the reality of our country.

Second, even accepting the flawed terminology, how, exactly, do "minorities" win? Simply because a Black man has been elected? Do Blacks "win" more than Hispanics? How about Asians? It remains to be seen what sort of path Mr Obama is going to take before we can simply say "minorities" have "won" in any real sense. If, for example, he inspires non-White Americans that they can aspire to greatness, in a sense the whole country will "win." On the other hand, if he further entrenches inherently racist policies of Balkanisation such as Affirmative Action, I don't see how, for example, Jewish or Asian Americans will "win" under that scenario.

And finally, the very idea that Barack Obama is a Black man bothers me, in no small way because my own son is biracial. Barack Obama is of similar ancestry, and saying he is "black" denies half of who he is. Which one of his parents will he reject? How will people like Soledad O'Brien classify my son? And as someone who is an ethnic minority, but not one of those who benefit from the current racial spoils system, is he a "winner" to the extent that CNN say he is?

I agree with Barack Obama that there should not be a Blue or a Red America. To that end, I also reject that there are ethnic "winners" (and therefore, by necessity, ethnic "losers"). It's up to him, and not talking heads with little to recommend them beyond good hair (e.g., Anderson Cooper) to decide that America, and not splinter groups, have won.

And I guess that is part of the change I am hoping for.
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