Friday, 14 November 2008

President Obama

I've been a bit surprised by all the hullabaloo over the election of a new US president. Let's try to make some sense of it.

Q: Will President Obama make everyone's lives much better?

A: Probably not. He's a politician, not a magician. He'll do the sorts of things that US presidents normally do.

Q: Will he at least be a better-than-average president?

A: Maybe, but we'll have to wait and see. No-one actually knows; not even the man himself.

Q: Will he do good things for black people in particular?

A: Probably, but to a very limited extent. He'll want to make some kind of gesture to his black supporters, but without antagonizing his non-black supporters, who are more numerous.

Q: Is the election of a half-black president a sign of US moral superiority over other countries?

A: No. The USA has a much larger black minority than most other predominantly white countries. According to Wikipedia, the USA is 80% white, 12.8% black, and 1.6% "multiracial" (I omit other categories). The UK, for example, is 92.1% white, 2% black, and 1.2% multiracial. Other European countries probably have even smaller black minorities. If it takes the USA this long to elect even a half-black leader, it's not surprising that it takes other countries even longer. However, if a politician similar to Obama appeared in the UK, I think he could attract plenty of votes. Obama himself seems popular in most countries, at least at the moment.

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