Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Funny Old World

It was easy, in recent weeks, to be cynical about the prospects for real "change" in the USA. Even if Obama won, it seemed, there were plenty of precedents for a seemingly revolutionary change to quickly fade into something not too unrecognizable from the status quo.

Those precedents may remain, but on the night, it was a lot harder to be so churlish. After John McCain's masterclass in defeat with dignity, Obama's studied and sober victory speech seemed to me to be his best yet. Even if my secular blood ran just a little cold at the catechism of "Yes We Can", nonetheless it became harder with each sentence to keep from nodding along.

Hard also to escape a sense of irony, that even Republicans are now able to look over at us in the Old World and say, "Could you do that?" Tonight, people all over the UK will be lighting fires and firing rockets in our own annual pyrotechnic celebration. How typically British - and how much more incongruous now - that we choose to celebrate the failure of a revolution. However disturbing and alien a place the USA has seemed recently, last night showed us the positive flipside of that alien nature - the willingness to embrace seismic change. I sincerely doubt that we could do that.

Even if the change we think we see, ultimately proves to be a naive dream - for today, at least, I envy Americans the chance to dream it.