Obama’s election demonstrates maturity of American democracy (Comment)

November 9th, 2008 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaThe victory of Barack Obama in the US presidential elections signifies once again the depth and maturity of American democracy. For a country which until the early 1920s didn’t allow women to vote and had seen multiple suffrage movements to disband all restrictions on race, religion and property to exercise the right to vote, having an African American president is indeed revolutionary.This victory lifts the spirits of not just millions of people in America but of the poor, downtrodden and politically sidelined hundreds of millions all over the world. Change has arrived in America and this will hopefully herald and hasten change across the world. And that is what this election will be rightly remembered for.

The new president faces the toughest economic challenges that any president has perhaps faced in the past 50 years. The debate on Wall Street and Main Street notwithstanding, president Obama will be primarily working on ensuring that Americans can keep their homes, pay their bills, send their children to school and be able to afford healthcare. The new administration should also try strike the fine balance between the need for tighter regulation and control and the need to let American industry thrive and prosper in an environment of innovation and enterprise. While the former is needed for today, the latter is what would make their tomorrow bright.

The United States has lost a lot of friends in the last few years. Making amends to this will be the new president’s most formidable task in the international arena. His administration should reach out, not just in words but in actions, and has to do so with a firm sense of conviction. It has relations to rebuild in countries and communities all over the world and this is not going to be an easy task either.

As an active participant in the Indian polity, let me highlight one aspect that we as Indians need to appreciate. After one of the most bitterly fought presidential elections, Senator John McCain graciously admitted defeat and offered to work with the new president-elect while Obama promised that he would listen to everyone’s opinion and that he would be everybody’s president. All divisions ended after the polls and they presented one face to the world - that of the United States - and not of two parties, two states or two races.

Obama also noted that President Bush had “graciously” offered his full support and assistance to him during the transition period.

“This speaks to a fundamental recognition that here in America we can compete vigorously in elections and challenge each other’s ideas, yet come together in service of a common purpose once the voting is done,” he said.

This is a lesson that Indian political parties need to draw on if we want to mature as a democracy.

(Madhu Goud Yaskhi is a Member of Parliament in India who also ran a law practice in New York. He can be contacted at madhu@madhuyaskhi.com )

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