This Is It

Only a few hours till the polls open for what is feeling like the most important federal election in modern US history. All signs point to an easy Obama victory, but anything can (and usually does) happen.

I’m stopping the Deonandia poll right now. You will recall that the question was, “Who do you think will win the US election?” From 35 respondents, 62.9% called it for Obama/Biden, while 35.7% think McCain/Palin will pull it off. Four miscreants chose “Other”. Bless their twisted little hearts, since I am assuming they’re clinging to my 8 year of prediction of a Gore presidency in 2009.

Further to all things electoral, The Other Ray sends us 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Elections. But the more touching story is that Barack Obama’s grandmother, the woman who raised him, died one day before possibly seeing her grandson make history as the first Black man to be President of the USA. But you know what? That lovely lady managed to vote in the advance polls. A more apt Hollywood ending I could not imagine.

I can’t help but think that Obama is still a young man in his 40s, yet he is now without both parents and the grandparents who raised him. As one whose adoration of his own parents has inspired him in all his ventures, I have a hard time imagining the void Obama would face when achieving this most exultant of accomplishments without any of his elder inspirations present. Indeed, I am ever impressed by the calm with which he has faced such shortfalls. If a lengthy and trying campaign is an apt test of a candidate’s temperament for the Oval Office, no man has impressed me as much as Obama has these past months.

No, he was not perfect. He said a few dumb things. He kowtowed to traditional US electoral gods, like the Israel lobby. And he has not been the transformational messianic figure of a Kennedy or Roosevelt. But he has been the needed man for his time: very smart, globally bred, multi-everything, calm and reasoned, difficult to anger, and eminently responsible.

And no, upon his ascension to Office –if all goes as foreseen– America’s problems will not vanish in a haze of divine splendour. Rather, quite the opposite will happen, as the fomenting problems of the world, exacerbated beyond all reason by the criminal reign of the Bushies, descend upon Obama, who will have to bear it all without the condescending swagger of his predecessors to hide behind, and with the eyes of a still very racist nation watching for even the smallest of missteps to mar the tenure of the first Black man to aspire to national leadership.

An old mentor put to me best: “the best defence against racism is excellence.” Obama has embraced that edict. But anything less that perfection will be seen by his detractors as failure for him, his party, his supporters and indeed his entire race.

It’s all such a shame. In so many ways, America –still seen by many as the leading nation of the world– is far behind everyone else; in the arena race relations, in particular.

As one commenter once put it, this is America’s last chance. If voters fail to usher in to office the one candidate who is universally globally acclaimed, yet who also brandishes the intellectual might to actually face the harder issues, then the Empire will not only have crumbled (for that is obviously inevitable), but she will fall rapidly without the cushioning empathy and support of the community of nations.

The drama unfolds in six hours. Tears will flow, both in joy and in defeat. How best to note this occasion? Why, with an SNL clip about Mark Wahlberg talking to animals, of course: