Crisis, the midwife of history

To paraphrase Karl Marx, «crisis is the midwife of history,» and Barack Obama is clearly a child of crisis, but not in the narrow sense of the financial crisis that gave him the final push toward his electoral victory. His crisis had to do with the failure of the neoconservative plan. If the Bush administration had not diminished America’s global status as it did, if Iraq had turned out differently, Obama’s nomination would have been cast aside. The political momentum he gathered was engendered by the fact that a great part of the American establishment gave him its political and financial support. The reason was not because they wanted an Afro-American president, nor because they were charmed by his politics. They supported him because they realized that this Illinois senator could salvage the country’s tarnished image and give it fresh prospects. This does not detract from the fact that Obama’s nomination also inspired the growth of a political movement that transcended electoral expediency and left its indelible mark on American society. The election of a black president is not a symbolic turning point, it is not just a simple electoral victory. It is being seen by many Americans as redemption, liberation from a constrictive ideo-political environment that has been imposed by Bush. Obama’s election was not just an American affair, as we saw quite clearly. The countdown was being watched with bated breath across the entire planet and the majority was behind the Democratic candidate. With his victory, the world already views America in a more positive light. The fact that he is undertaking the presidency during such difficult times as well as that there are so many expectations of him will represent both a great challenge and political opportunity. If he allows himself to be absorbed by the establishment in Washington, the people’s expectations will turn against him. If, however, he takes advantage of the positive climate and dynamic to put his words into action, then he can make history.