Monday, February 11, 2008
I've been following the coverage of the 2008 U.S. elections on TV and on the internet and I have to agree that this is one of the most exciting races ever, primarily because of the very tight competition between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Democratic side. Not to trivialize things, but the very obvious fact is that for the first time, a woman and an African-American, both highly qualified, are gunning for the top post in the most influential government in the world. This is an unprecedented event that even civil rights activists in the 50s and the 60s might not have even dared to dream will ever come.
Of course, everybody knows who Clinton is, a former first lady to the first baby-boomer American president, one who has displayed excellence in her field and has earned respect by standing by her man during Lewinsky-gate. She had her own share of controversies though, but her long experience in service is seen as her strongest asset and qualification. Obama meanwhile is relatively new, but has gained millions of supporters partly because of his charisma and his ability to inspire people with who he is and what he can do. Many people have even compared him to no less than JFK.
The reality though is after the rounds of state primaries, only one of them could continue to run for the election representing the Democratic party. At present, they are evenly-tallied (with Obama having a slight edge because of his wins over the weekend), both very strong and equally inspirational candidates, that many are suggesting that one should just give way to the other and be a running mate. That may be a good idea on paper, but I doubt if any of these two will be a willing second-fiddle to the other.
Whatever happens, I do believe that the American people deserve a change, and the world deserves a break from atrocities resulting directly from well-documented flaws in the international policies of the current U.S. administration. A few years back I was talking to an American, and she said that "people used to love us, now they hate us." At that time, I did not really share her view, but as the years went by, I would have to admit that the world is now a much shittier place than it ever was because of decisions made without much basis and justification, breeding contempt and hatred from the aggrieved parties, and ensuring that this whole terrorism thing will be with us for countless generations to come. (Have you seen the latest Al-Qaeda video? They're training kids to abduct and kill people. And those kids will do the same thing to their future kids, and so on).
Watching the campaigns on TV, I am also reminded that in all my years of existence, I have never been inspired by any Philippine politician. The last few times Filipinos were inspired by anybody in politics were when Marcos ran for president in the 60s, when Ninoy Aquino decided to come back to the country, and when a certain actor charmed the masses to the presidential palace. We all know how those turned out. I also envy the fact that in the U.S. elections, people are actually talking about issues, about actual platforms, unlike in this country wherein it's basically a popularity contest, about artistas endorsing candidates and the masses lapping it all up, and where candidates don't even bother to show up for debates because they know they will win anyway. And when they do win, they lose no time power-tripping and entering into shady deals in betrayal of public trust.
Integrity, qualifications, breeding, and class. Maybe our politicians should watch TV more and learn a thing or two from Clinton and Obama.