A View From Across The Pond

The Times speaks reverently, and enviously, about our election.

…On Tuesday night, with a countdown to precisely 10pm Chicago time, American
democracy transformed in an instant not only the hopes and expectations of
African Americans, but also the self-image of their country and their
country’s image in the world.

…Within hours Gordon Brown and David Cameron were vying in the House of Commons
for scraps of the President-elect’s reflected glory. In Moscow, by contrast,
in an 85-minute state-of-the-nation address, President Medvedev made no
mention of the US election. Small wonder. Nothing is more alarming to the
stage managers of phoney democracies than the sight of real ones sweeping
entire political classes from the stage in a day of bloodless voting.


…By the same token, nothing is more inspiring for ordinary citizens. One in 50
people on the planet voted in this election, but it was truly a global
political event. This is not just because of the openness of the American
electoral system and of its voters’ yearnings. It is not just because of the
theatricality of the marathon campaigns, or because, despite its soaring
deficits and disastrous loss of prestige in the Iraq war, the US remains the
most powerful nation on earth.


The world has been fascinated and profoundly moved by this election most of
all because of what America is — a nation founded on universal aspirations,
and thus a mirror to humanity. For two centuries that mirror has seemed
irreparably cracked by the legacy of slavery and segregation, a pernicious
and enduring racism that remains a factor in the blighted lives of so many
of the poor blacks among whom Mr Obama launched his political career. He is
not the last role model they will ever need, but he is the most powerful
proof his country has produced that it is ready to judge them by the content
of their character, not the colour of their skin.

…Yesterday President Bush called this election “a triumph of the American
story”. It has been exactly that. America may have faltered in its efforts
to export democracy, but this time, at home, it has delivered a masterclass
in the real thing.

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