OBAMA and THE NEW WORLD

By Maura Moynihan

 

The Bush years have been painful for millions of Americans, and especially tough on my neighborhood.  I’m an Irish Catholic Liberal Democrat Female Smoking Vegetarian from Manhattan. For 8 years I wondered if I’d better find a new habitat before I am officially extinct. But on Tuesday Nov. 4th, 08, the streets of New York City went wild. This manic fusion of the Five Continents, on the island that houses the United Nations, this urban dreamscape of the New World screamed and danced and wept until dawn. 

 

It’s a miracle.  Once more, the people have wrested power from the plutocrats and restored the nation’s honor and promise.  Once more, democracy prevailed, and the American people can feel proud, and relieved. Throughout that warm November night, our cell phones were jammed with exultant calls from friends around the globa. A voice from India said; “The world can forgive America all that has happened, because the world needs it.”

 

The American people have weathered a threatening storm created by bad governance and driven by an antique world view that venerates militarism and plunder. We saw our tax dollars looted from our civil society to fund an insane war, we saw our rights assaulted, our votes stolen.  We got tax cuts for the rich as the poor suffered. We’ve seen the polar ice caps are melting, but we’ve been told the global warming was a farce whilst the powers that were proffered bigger cars, hamburgers and mortgages. And our young men and women still perish in foreign wars, far from home.

 

Let us thank the gods of commerce that the financial crisis hit before the election and the plunder came clear. Let us celebrate the End of the 80’s, a tawdry decade in American life, when the power elite began its’ determined, relentless campaign to annihilate the legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. For 28 years it was a smashing success. Not much it left of the Roosevelt legacy these days, except for my neighbor’s social security checks and the FDR Drive, a crumbling beltway to the east of Manhattan. Here in New York  we have the words and faces of those New York Democrats beaming an antique nobility from photographs hanging askew on a tavern wall. How proud they would be of their Democratic Party today.

 

Indeed, one of the most pernicious elements of the right wing political machine was their demonization of Democrats. During the 2004 election a man from Virginia quite literally lunged at me with a clenched fist when I said I was voting for John Kerry. It was cause for concern. I wondered, why do so many of my fellow Americans hate people like me so much? Didn’t we all grow up watching “My Favorite Martian” together?  What are we doing in the same country? Are we in the same country? But this election year, at last, negative ads failed to deliver results. The American people resisted the manipulations of spin doctors and voted for change, by voting for the better candidate, not the slickest package.

 

Change was embodied by the brave young senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. His mother took him round the world from his childhood, his grandparents nurtured his scholastic gifts, his teachers rewarded his talents, as did his constituents from Illinois. His victory on Nov. 4th was achieved by extraordinary discipline and a talent for leading and inspiring people, first his campaign staff, and then, the nation, and now, the world. He is the man for the New World, a shifting universe replete with peril and promise.

 

                Many Americans of Obama’s generation were given the gift of an international childhood. In the early 1970’s I moved to India with my family, and graduated from Hindi High, the American International School in New Delhi. Living in India liberated me from ignorance about a great many things, principally a cloistered, 1st world ignorance about basic needs. (If living in India doesn’t raise your consciousness, then you are one tough customer, or maybe you didn’t leave the hotel). As much as I love Indian art and culture, I admire India’s democracy. India is the most honest country I know. India does not lie to itself about its struggles, neither does it endeavour to deceive the world about its problems. John F. Kennedy once said; “Democracy is a difficult form of government. It requires courage, but above all, it requires knowledge.”  Many of us feared that the USA had lost the will to examine itself, to be honest with itself and the world, to guard its democracy.  The Democratic Party, which my late father, Daniel Patrick Moynihan believed to be the hope of mankind, had been dealt so many death blows by the Radical Right, I wondered if it was a corpse.

 

                It’s not dead. It’s alive. The right wing’s determined, well-funded efforts to kill the party of Franklin Roosevelt failed on Nov. 4th. On that November night, sanity returned. Let us hope that America may yet be an example to the world an not a lesson to it.

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