It’s not an automatic turning point

Politics I’m tired and happy. I didn’t cry last night, which was a surprise, but it takes a lot for me to offer tears of joy. Perhaps, if like Lewis Hamilton’s near miss, the race had been closer, won at the last minute, not as much of a forgone conclusion, the relief would have overtaken me. But as soon as Pennsylvania was called for the Democrats, the scale of the electoral achievement was becoming clear, it was a waiting game, waiting to hear if the speeches would be of the kind which would be quoted for decades to come. McCain’s won’t but I think Obama’s will. It cleverly worked in elements of his campaign speeches and simultaneously captured the euphoria of the nation.

It’s not an automatic turning point, there’s no lever to be pulled which can suddenly make everything better, which is as it should be, because sometimes you need to be challenged for a satisfying victory. Some areas of the United States will persist in being divided at least for now. The fact is that during the speeches, when McCain mentioned his rival the crowd in Phoenix booed, and when Obama commiserated his opponent the Chicago gathering cheered. The US isn’t just divided by big issues such as race, gender and sexuality but small ones like manners. Some may be convinced when the new President turns his words into actions and shows that there is a new way, but some never will.

When I was eleven years old, when I was still in primary school and didn’t know anything about the world, I stayed up late and watched the Giotto space probe pass by the nucleus of Halley’s Comet (or at least Patrick Moore’s description of it). I was awake for the millennium, full of cold, watching the new age pass through the various time zones. I’ve waited up for Oscar coverage. But last night beat them all. Yes, even the Titanic landslide. Last night, watching the BBC’s coverage, the blogs, and Twitter, from the outside, I could still see a country in transition, a population almost realising on mass that not everything is certain, not everything is fixed, that with work, together they can bring change.

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