It became very clear early this past Tuesday, as results poured in, the citizens of the United States of America were on their way to electing their first black president. Apart from that very consequential fact we believe equally that Americans chose hope over fear this time.
As with most things in life, there are ups and downs. It just so happens the United States is down in the dumps financially, and truth be told, the country seems off course. Self esteem is not limited to individuals, and the country has suffered from a lack of confidence as its financial status weakened and the war in Iraq dragged on. In a sense, the national psyche needed a boost and President-elect Barack Obama’s message of hope, which we chronicled in this space ten months ago, resonated with voters.
In many ways, it is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s sweep to office in the 1980s. At that time, he pushed the notion of America being proud once again. Two different parties; a very similar message. The fact today that the American public embraced a fresh face in an African American, signals at least a willingness to forego generations-old biases that American leaders have to be old white guys.
In the coming weeks before his swearing-in ceremony, Obama’s people will be busy getting a game plan in place. We think he will surround himself with people focused on finding solutions to problems. For far too long, problems have been the focus, rather than how to fix what ails a certain condition. The fear of change or doing things differently has been part of that government’s problem.
The effect on Canada is yet to be realized. A former ambassador signaled yesterday that an Obama presidency would not be good for our country and that the North American Free Trade Agreement would be opened up. Again, there is no reason to choose fear over the hope that our two countries cannot forge better relations. Certainly the auto sector and manufacturing are of key interest to Ontario. Resources and energy are areas where our two nations are very much intertwined.
With the race decided in a decisive way, it is now time for Americans to move ahead. Hope is hard to quantify, but surely a positive attitude and willingness to try new things will help the country get back on its feet. A healthy USA, is good for Canada.