Wednesday, 5 November 2008

A new day

As the song goes, Oh, what a night it was . . .

Several generations of Americans who have lived through the segregationist years in the U.S., the Vietnam war, the political assassinations, lynchings, church bombings, ghetto violence, the Nixon years and eight destructive and demoralizing years of George W., awake to a new era today.

And a number of delusional Sun Media pundits are eating crow.

What a wondrous and emotional night it was, highlighted by Barack Obama's flawless and inspiring speech, John McCain's gracious loss and a national voting fever to be envied by Canada and most free countries around the globe.

The president-elect is anxious to get started, as are most Americans and people around the world, but we won't see the last of George W. until Jan. 20, inauguration day.

We will miss David Letterman's nightly George W. flawed speeches and Tina Fey's brilliant Sarah Palin, but when it comes to making sense of the 21st century, comedy bits are dispensable.

You can sense a new direction for the United States is on the horizon. How radical a change is yet to be seen, but blue and red state Americans are definitely in need of unifying hugs.

Perhaps television, a venue all of the candidates flocked to in the two years leading up to the election, can provide guidance.

In the television series 24, the black president was competent, but fictional. Barack Obama is black, competent and a reality. His key word is change.

On The West Wing television series, Democratic president-elect Matthew Santos asks his unsuccessful Republican opponent Arnold Vinick to become his Secretary of State and he agrees.

"Of course, that was all just a television fantasy," John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, wrote in Newark's Star Ledger in January. "With the screen writers still out on strike, who could even imagine such a plot in real life?"

Well, hold on there . . .

Obama, big on bipartisan politics, is the new hope for the United States of America. tarnished by eight years of George W. Naming McCain to any post in his new government would be a monumental, unifying gesture.

The United States has never been so politically divisive, largely fueled by the broadcast media. Perhaps the healing process would benefit from a page torn from a television script.

Obama strikes us as a president who will dare to be different in positive, constructive ways. Giving McCain a role in the hike back up the hill would be inspirational - and a definite change in 21st century politics.

Our respect for McCain grew as he spoke in the wake of his defeat. He is not too old to contribute to the reversal of Republican misfortunes, he is just too old to be president with Sarah Palin checking his pulse hourly.

Taking another page from television, how about a Department of Extreme Makeovers, mirroring ABC's popular home reno series, offering a helping hand to selfless Americans? Rebuild America, block by block on a wider scale, with the assistance of community volunteers and corporate donations.

For now, our good neighbors to the south suddenly got a whole lot saner than they were on election day in 2004. Good on you.

Your neighbors to the north share your sense of hope and change.

We also envy your renewed passion for the democratic process, in record numbers, from ecstatic, first-time teen voters to 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper, who eagerly cast her vote for Obama in Atlanta, Georgia.

Canadians haven't shown such a collective passion for elections since the Trudeaumania years and that was 40 years ago.

In Canada, we don't care about the colour, religion or sexual orientation of a political candidate, we just want him or her to have a pulse.

Perhaps Justin Trudeau, Pierre's son, will someday motivate us to gather in large numbers, raise some flags and feel politically vibrant once again.

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