Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, November 13, 2008

By Tareq Adnan

Approximately 3 am.
“Hey dude! Obama has taken Florida!”
“What…? What time is it?”
“Who cares!!? He's already up over one hundred electoral votes!!!! McCain ain't got no chance!”
“Eh… who? Why are you shouting? (Looks out the window) DUDE! It's still dark out! Why are you up?”
“Dude it's the elections! Come on man! WE have to root for Obama man! WE gotta vote that man into power!!”
“Eh…? We? We who? And why us? And why me in the middle of the night!!? What do I care!?!”
“You're lame dude. The world passes you by and you want to sleep.”
“!@&$ you, you little @!%$&########... waking me up...”

Approximately 8: 30 am
“Hey wake up! Come on quickly! They're showing the projections on TV. Quickly now!!!”
“What…? Who? Projigeddy what?”
“Come on!”
(Quick feet running into the drawing room, sluggish feet making way slowly, sound of TV blaring)
On TV: “Excuse me; we have a projection coming in… Yes, Senator Obama has taken….”
“Wow, he just took another state!”
“Dad… why are you watching TV in the morning?”
“The election! Obama has a commanding lead. Over 200 electorals already!”
“Is that good?”
“Good for us?”

(Start music)
“Have a little faith in me…”
(John Hiatt)
November 4 in Chicago, Illinois, over a hundred thousand gathered in Grant Park to get down and jiggy with it because it was a momentous night for them, for the world. A great change had taken place in American history as the country picked its first colored President. And it was quite understandable the craze that surrounded Barack Obama, a truly inspirational leader can command such respect and jubilation in his supporters.

What confuses yours truly though is how everyone else in the world is going crazy too. This particular writer didn't need his father to wake him up on the morning of the fifth so we could watch a CNN projection counting electoral votes. Agreed; Obama's speech was awesome (it did both the job of a wake-up call, and providing the inspiration to take the initiative to go against Daddy dearest and go back to sleep) but it's hard to see why one had to be woken up pronto to see it.

There's this new hope in the world of change and better days with Barack Obama clinching the presidency, and it's not just prevalent among Bangladeshis here, a lot of the immigrant Bangladeshis living in America seem to have been swept along in the Obama mania. Word on the street is that they seem to have voted too, Democrat that is. Those of you wondering, yeah that's the donkey sign and no, it's not a Bangladeshi party. Boggles the mind doesn't it, that with elections going on here and our country set for political meltdown, we could be so caught up in Obama.

What's more surprising is that people were actually more interested in the American elections. Veteran political gossipers like the old people in some families were actually talking about something else for a change. And there you go; the catchword, "change". If Obama can bring about such changes, you have to like the man, although this writer would like him more if he offered him a financial aid and a recommendation to Harvard buts that probably not the change he was looking for.

And just like us mainlanders, the immigrants seemed a bit too caught up in the glamour of the “Yes We Can” slogan. The fact that our own elections are at hand and that most of the change we personally did do is coming undone (which just goes to show how we really can't) has been rendered quite immaterial. When we at the RS asked this question to our kinfolk in America, the answer was that Obama was the harbinger of change, and that by voting they were voting for the world. Go figure.

Coming round to the more crucial question, the one that stopped the tirade in the morning in yours truly's house was the how could Obama help us? Well, indirectly, if he manages to save the global economy we would be better off. America restored to its former buying capacity is always good news. And tax cuts for Bangladeshi immigrants saving up for that Jacuzzi and the fulfillment of their American dreams doesn't hurt.

But then again there's McCain, another man called the Maverick. Respected, rich and not quite the non-American's President, his disastrous choice of Palin didn't help any with BD people. Considering that there aren't any soccer moms of Bangladeshi descent that we've heard of, that was a bad choice there.

Obama not only won our support, but the worlds' with his staunch anti war stance, his over large ears, his over large smile, his Harvard degree, with his rock artistes' affiliations, Oprah and a lot more (amazing how Americanized we really are). You really have to give it to the man.

This writer feels that we seem to be expecting far too many things from one man. And the speculations don't seem to stop as to the greatness of Barack. It wouldn't be surprising if some scientist comes up and says he expects Obama to come up with a cure for cancer. With all the unbridled hope attached to him, one wonders if maybe we should be a little more cautious and expect less. His achievements are already great, but sometimes hoping too much from a man ultimately brings about his downfall. Maybe we shouldn't make a hero out of him, because if he does fail, we will be the ones railing at him the most, quietly forgetting just how much we once adored him.

Call this cynicism (no don't), but Obama could be the harbinger of change, be it good or bad. And in that respect, the words of John Hiatt in his beautiful song, truly represents Obama, his politics, his change and all that he stands for, with a little bit of faith…

“And when your backs against the wall Just turn around and you will see
I will catch, I will catch your fall baby
Just have a little faith in me…

… You see time, time is our friend
'Cause for us there is no end
And all you gotta do is have a little faith in me…”

(John Hiatt)

It was amazing.
The 2008 US elections had its bad moments and good moments. This was the first time I had ever seen the inside of a democratic, Presidential election and not everything was pretty. The slurs against the candidates, whether Obama was a terrorist, if Sarah Palin was really the mother of her fifth child or McCain a racist, changed every day and seemed to get uglier. As an international student attending one of America's most liberal colleges, I had an opportunity to see what exactly American youngsters were looking for in their next President, as the rest of the world watched them make their decision. Several times during his campaign, Obama appealed to the young and first time voters in America because he believed that they were on his side, which they were overwhelming were (he won by more than 2-to-1 among voters of all races 30 years old and younger). He had inspired young Americans to take interest in their country's future and this was proved by the energy with which many campaigned for him. I saw hundreds of students taking up volunteer work to get the vote out for Obama and that is apparently something that hardly ever happens. The fact that Obama was a black man only inspired them to do more so that they could send out a different image of America to the world, one that paints it as the melting pot of values and races as it is not as a country with a deeply racist past and resistant to change.

The thing that excited me most about Obama was that he had 'Hussein' as his middle name. It also amused me that nearly everyone found something to connect with in him. Just as I supported his middle name, my other international friends liked that he had grown up in Indonesia and Hawaii, African Americans saluted his African ancestry and white Americans supported his news and fresh ideas of change for the country after 8 years of Bush. He has the ability and energy to inspire us all for change and has shown us that the old naïve ideas of hope and faith are not all dead and you can accomplish anything you want to - not just in America. The night of November the 4th 2008 will be unforgettable for many and especially for me. When I think about the truly historic moment when Barack Obama was declared the President of the United States and the whole lecture hall with about 500 people erupting into screams, tears and dances sends down chills down my spine. Minutes later, I got to witness the first African American accepting his position as the President Elect among more hushed whispers and silent tears. All this has given me hope that we too, all over the world, who were not part of the American election process can also bring some sort of change into our own politics. With our own election looming near, let's hope that the US election, while obviously overshadowing ours in the global world, but making it no less important, gives our own politicians and youngsters a hope for change and new leadership.

By Nisma Elias




home | The Daily Star Home

2008 The Daily Star