obama speaks to crowd 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
A JPost.com exclusive blog
Writing this on the eve of Election Day in America, and long before the votes have been counted, it appears likely that the winner of the election is the election process itself. Voting as an expression of democracy at its finest. It is clear that the people of the United States are not dispirited or cynical about the process.
Instead, they have enthusiastically supported and participated in the long political selection season. They have voted in record numbers in the primaries - the Democratic primaries having generated 2 or 3 times the number of votes that were cast in the 2004 primaries. Twenty-nine million Americans have already voted in pre-Election Day ballots. The democratic process is indeed alive and well in the USA.
Traditional political wisdom maintains that a heavy vote favors the Democrats and a light turnout (often generated by bad weather) favors the Republicans. This is because there are more poor or middle-income people in America than rich people.
Republicans, who are more motivated to vote, come out to vote regardless of the weather. If this is true, then the heavy interest in this election seems to support the many polls which have indicated that the likely outcome is a strong Democratic victory, both in Congress and in the White House.
The intense energy of the campaign and the energy generated by Barack Obama in his constant call for "Change!" is a singular source of hope for rescue from the gloomy torpor of the economic and foreign failures of the Bush administration. The economy has gone south, the US has lost its leadership in the Western world and is stagnating in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US has been unable to halt the Iranian nuclear program.
The American people feel the lack of leadership and want a new sense of direction and purpose. Indeed, in a recent poll, 85% of those questioned said that America needed change. They are not willing to sit back and continue this doom and gloom scenario. Rather, the resilient American people have energized this election and have brought a resounding demand for change.
Barack Obama correctly read the people's need for change, and made this his clarion call. The public's positive response to his candidacy is evidence that they share with him the need for change. John McCain never clarified his attitude towards the need for change.
Although he enjoyed characterizing himself as a maverick - and hence one who bucks the system - he, in fact, has also characterized himself as a faithful Republican who has voted with George Bush's programs 90% of the time and has selected a conservative candidate for his Vice-President.
John McCain does not project the image of an energizing change-maker; Barack Obama does. If the election supports the Obama candidacy, it will be primarily for this reason.
Change, yes. But what kind of change, and what changes will there be? Of course, it will be a change that will result from a consensus of the Presidency and the Congress, as the American President does not have the authority to generate major changes by himself.
The President can, however, point to the direction of the intended changes. Based on his speeches, if elected, Obama will try to strengthen the American economy, restore American leadership in the free world, and will coordinate the efforts of the Western democracies to face the challenges presented by rival countries, rogue nations and terrorists.
American democracy is strong - Election Day will prove that. The American people are optimistic and hopeful and welcome the future. They are not fearful of change; they embrace it.
This will be a watershed year - one that hopefully restores America to its leadership position in the world, as a force for good and for peace, and one that will benefit and strengthen the American people domestically, so that the first half of the 21st Century will continue as an America Era.
The American people have made their wishes known. May the American politicians that will be elected today be worthy of this challenge and meet the standards expected of them.
The writer is Counsel to Democrats Abroad Israel