There’s an old saying in film making (useful in story telling generally) that goes “Show, don’t tell”. In short, this means show what’s happening in your story rather than explaining it. Having a character actually perform an action is much more powerful than having a narrator describe an action. And this, in short, has been the most frustrating aspect of watching America during the Bush Presidency.
To see Bush over an over again saying one thing and then doing the opposite. To talk about finding those “responsible” for the 9/11 attacks and instead fabricating enemies that suited pre-determined political goals. To talk about making the economy strong when pretty much every action he took fucked things up (and by some miracle the chickens came home to roost BEFORE the election – for the last year or so I though he was going to manage to stave of the economic collapse he had engineered until he was out of office). To hear him talk mindless drivel about “freedoms” while turning America into a police state. A pathetically inefficient, overly-bureaucratic police state at that.
As an outsider it seemed like every fucking lie he peddled was being eagerly swallowed up by a wilfully ignorant populace. It was easy to think Americans had developed a taste for shit sandwiches and couldn’t wait to wolf down the next serving. I joked about a year ago when the front running Democrats were a woman and a black man that the Democrats must want to lose. Apparently not :)
That whole American mythology of “anything is possible, anybody can become President” is suddenly a lot harder to disregard. It isn’t as if the country (and the rest of the world who are so heavily affected by what happens in the U.S.) are about enter a magical fairyland but this is stunning on so many levels. Seriously Americans, how crazy are you? You can turn 180 degrees from the soul-crushing negativity of the Bush years to one of the most hopeful and inspiring politicians in the world just like that?
And the dude is BLACK! His dad was Muslim! Part of his schooling was in the world’s most populous Muslim nation! Holy fuck, whatever pill you people are taking I’ll have two!
I have been addressing this campaign quite regularly on YouTube and topic of race has always been part of it. More than one person has had a bit of a dig at me by asking if a black person would be elected leader in Australia. Short answer: no. Slightly longer answer: no fucking way! It’s a slightly unfair comparison as we don’t have a Presidential system and a Parliamentary system doesn’t really allow for a breakout star to rise to Prime Minister in a short space of time. It’s possible but far less likely.
But it isn’t just that – Australia’s indigenous population are by and large treated like shit. Pointing this out is a good way to make lots of non-indigenous Australians very defensive and angry, even people who are largely very reasonable and even progressive. They’ll rush to point out welfare and lazy abos burning down their government provided houses and I have learned it’s largely impossible to talk to people on the issue if they’ve made up their mind like that. Seriously, if you’re going to go on about how the most downtrodden indigenous race in the world have it so good I see no value in engaging in any conversation.
So you showed the world America. Anything’s possible. Hopefully the redemption of the Republican party (and maybe even the rise of third party candidates as a viable option) is also possible. I wonder how long it will take some powerbrokers in the GOP to see the sort of passion Ron Paul (for example) inspired and go “Hey, maybe this hateful shit we’ve been peddling has run its course – why don’t we actually trying standing for something apart from hating people different to us?” With the majorities the Democrats look like having some strong, principled opposition will be vital. Like most political groups, the Democrats have an appalling track record for corruption and ineffectiveness when there’s nobody to keep them honest.
Anyway, I’m visiting The US in two weeks (only the dirty, immoral socialist land of California) so I hope y’all are still partying when I get there!