Barack Obama will be the next president of the USA. I know most people around the world are tired of the American elections and there is a sense of weariness because we all thought that it would be like four years ago when the world set their hopes on John Kerry (anyone but Bush thing) and Americans let them down. When I woke up this morning and turned the TV on just when they were announcing Obama coming out on the stage as president-elect, I was shocked and elated. This is definitely going to be a good day. Besides what it means politically both for Americans and the world, this has cultural and ideological meaning for everyone. In Saudi Arabia, people look to the USA as a center of education and progress so when President Clinton got caught with Lewinsky, it had a ripple effect here. People got the message that after all that education and power it all came down to sex. And there was a this wave of womanizing and I believe many upper-middle class men took on second wives because of that negative influence. Then when Bush got elected for a second term after his foreign policy failures, many here thought well the west is definitely just a bunch of racist colonialist crusaders at heart. By voting for Bush they sent the message that there was no remorse for all those tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib, for the unAmericanness of Guantanamo Bay and all those dead Iraqi women and children. Some put it down to that lives that are non-white and non Christian had little value to the US. And a sense of bitterness and disappointment in the so-called American values and principles unfurled and suffocated any popularity that the US had pre-Iraq.
Now with Obama elected, no matter what he does in the future I know that racial tensions everywhere have been subdued a little. His background; the time he spent in Muslim Indonesia as a child and his Islamic heritage on his father’s side coupled with his mixed race and his choice of an African American as a spouse is beautiful. Him winning tells humanity that dignity, self-respect, hard-work and qualifications still count and that even though the bumbling fool Bush dubiously won in the beginning, he definitely is not better off for it.
As for what it means for Saudis, it is a cultural shift in the right direction. Saudi did not really believe in the American version of democracy. How could they when all the presidents of the so-called” melting pot” were Anglo. Now they are rubbing their eyes in disbelief rethinking the concept in a way that hopefully will move them out of their passiveness and no point attitude. Tribal differences will matter a little less now. Yes that is how much weight American elections have around the world.