High expectations for the New American President

Ive heard a couple of conflicting comments recently about all the hype surrounding the new U.S. President. One that plays on my mind the most is when an editor of mine noticed some of the posters in the Student Centre advertising for the Obama Pub Night at the Blind Duck Pub.

Yes, we did it? he read and questioned. What did we do? These people make it sound as if we were the one who voted for Obama, he added.

In a way, albeit highly indirectly, we did. We helped generate the hype. Canadians — from east to west —were arguably more in tune with the politics south of the border than their own nations affairs. CBC and CCTV conducted several polls that evinced this. We never stopped talking about him, we never stopped turning our heads toward the television whenever he was on giving a speech, and we never stopped demonstrating, in some way or another, our support for another countrys president. And it all made sense in so many ways. After all, what happens in the U.S. affects the rest of the world. Just look at how far the economic crisis has stretched out to; China notwithstanding. Yes, Barack Obama is a promise for change not just in the United States of America, but for the rest of the world as well.

For the U.S. of course, it means so much more. Obama as President also means that change has already occurred. An African-American U.S. president? How many of you wouldve expected that in your lifetime? And so for all those wondering about the hype and if it is indeed overblown, in so many ways it really isnt. This is more than just a detail in the history textbook, this is a sign of equality never symbolized or even experienced before. This is…a new America.

The big question, which practically every single major publication in North America has been attempting to answer, is whether Obama will live up to all the hype. Allow me to stick my neck out and take a stab at that — no one, no human being on this earth, can live up to the kind of hype that Barack Obama has generated. Just think, from Election Day through Saturday afternoon, 43 children born at the Nyanza Provincial Hospital in Kisumu, Kenya were named either after Barack or Michele Obama. One child was even named Senator (first name) Barack Obama — for the sake of diversity perhaps.

Its not as if the man has dug that very hole for himself, no. Weve simply gone ahead and done that for him. And hes already taking it in his stride. Hes already put himself to work. Hes already changing policies and shutting down abusive detention centres.

Nonetheless, quick and aggressive start aside, Barack Obama has a lot of work to do. The war in Iraq, the economic stimulus bill, and bank bailouts are just a few items many claim should be at the top of his list. But those are just some of the priorities from the U.S. perspective. Then there are international expectations such as the checklist which Amnesty International, the human rights organization, has for Barack Obama — end illegal detention, eradicate torture and other ill-treatment, and end impunity.”

And of course, theres the never ending Gaza crisis Obama will soon be expected to turn his attention to. Will the U.S. continue to vote in support of Israel now that Obama is in charge? Wouldnt it be funny if they did? Because what would the pro-Palestinian masses — the majority of whom are supporters of Obama — say then? Would they finally realize its a more politically complex issue than first thought? Or would they simply berate Obama for failing as the most powerful man in the world? I hesitate to think they would do the former, but if the millions of people around the world say that they trust this man, then they should trust in his every decision. Is the world ready for that? Or are we just hoping that Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, is simply the one to take action according to whatever it is we believe in? Time will surely tell, and then well see how the hype splits in two. Which side will you be on?

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