For reasons that are as clear as pike stuff, this election is no longer a strict private American election.
It is a world election.It is not that either of the two candidates will be able to fundamentally alter the imperial nature of the United States of America, its conservatism or its naturally autarkic status quo. That will not happen.
Furthermore, none of the candidates will be able to rearrange America’s entrenched and subjective foreign policy whose Holy Grail is oil and Israel. Indeed, fundamentally the policies of the candidates are structurally on par and both are based on the recognition that America is ideologically centre-right.
Be that as it may, this is one election in which the word change cannot simply be taken as a slogan or as a metaphor. Change is required in America as in Zimbabwe. Change captures the exhaustion with the status quo.
Change captures the unwillingness to continue doing business as usual, the embarrassing regurgitation of the monotony of the present. Change is liberation, a liberation from the cajoles of mediocrity. In the case of America, after eight years of George W Bush, change is as imperative as it is critical. Change is a breath of fresh air. George W Bush leaves America in a crisis.
First is the fall of Wall Street, the sub-prime lending crisis and the economy in recession which can turn into a Depression.
The fact that 10 000 houses are being repossessed every day and the fact that a cumulative figure of over US$3 trillion has had to pumped into the financial sector speaks volumes of the Bush legacy. Perhaps more telling is the legacy of Bush vis-à-vis the mess in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. George W Bush dragged America to war on the basis of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, totally overstated the
virtues of militarism and under-estimated grassroots resistance to American imperial power.
That Al Qaeda is on the rise in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and that Iraq cannot stand on its own is the greatest indictment of the Bush legacy.
However, Iraq and Afghanistan are mere reflections of a sick foreign policy; one based on the natural right of America to define what is good for the world and to impose that good on the world particularly in the unipolar world following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Thus Bush has evolved a unipolar foreign policy based on constructs like benevolent hegemony, pre-emption, unilateralism, unipolarity and the dogmatic superiority of American values, euphemistically described as “liberal democracy”. The net result of this foreign policy is the total destruction of international law as a vehicle of international arbitration. The force of deterrent is gone as much as the moral authority of the United Nations, a body that was thoroughly abused by George Bush.
Thus, in our view, America requires new matrices of re-engagement both at home and abroad. It requires the departure from George W Bush’s bellicosity and machine gun of fear as an instrument of governance. For some of us, that is where Barack Obama comes in. The world is so much arrested by mediocrity. Mediocrity itself is a frenzied religion.
However, once in a while, God donates individuals of such exceptional talent that you can only thank the Almighty that you breathe the same air with them. Take Tiger Woods for instance. Take Nelson Mandela. Take Usain Bolt.
Take Lance Armstrong. Barack Obama is that rare breed! His exceptional intelligence is not borne by the fact that he is a graduate of Harvard. However, that he was an editor of the incomparable Harvard Law Review takes him to another level.
The way he dissects and unpacks the never-ending debate on the American Constitution between the so-called conservatives like Robert Bork who believe in the original understanding of the founding fathers and the so-called liberals.
Obama thus represents a departure from the suffocating mediocrity of our time. For America, he represents a real departure from eight years of Bush waste. A departure from adversarial confrontation to a more democratic foreign policy based on consensus and soft power.
On the domestic front too, his trump card, comprehensive health care reform, should certainly achieve universal insurance which is as much needed as it is long overdue. In making Obama the man, very few of us are under any illusions about his capacity in the immediate to short-term. After all, many democratic Presidents make such fundamental shifts to the right.
But to some of us, whether he wins or not, he has redefined American politics and in the process crashed a lot of myths about the capacity or lack of capacity of a black person.
The leaders of the civil rights movement such as Martin Luther King and others would never have betted that on 4 November 2008; history would and could be rewritten
Those of us who come from Dot to would never have imagined that one of us, whose father herded cattle in El Dorado or Kisumu, could become President of the USA. It can surely be a miracle. That is the point. This whole thing is a miracle. A miracle of hope and the amazing power of belief and faith. As Obama himself has put it, ” Hope……..hope…..is what led me here today – with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America.
Hope is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; we have the courage to
remake the world as it should be.”
Tendai L. Biti a lawyer by profession is senior MDC Member of Parliament for Harare North and the party’s Secretary General. He is also the MDC’s Chief Negotiator in the Thabo Mbeki brokered power sharing talks between the MDC and ZANU PF.