Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thoughts on the US Presidential Elections

1. Race still matters. However much tolerant, pluralistic and liberal people might like to think that in today's society everyone can achieve what they want by merit, regardless of their race, it has become apparent that race is important. Perhaps individual voters know whether they voted for Obama because of his race ("It's about time we had a black president"), or despite his race ("He's the better candidate even though he's black"), but I doubt that any voters thought that race was completely unimportant and irrelevant to their choice. One can only hope that President Obama will be remembered as much for his positive achievements in office as for being the first black president.

2. Turnout. It seems that despite early predictions, the turnout was not higher than in the 2004 elections. However, there does seem to have been a different composition of those voters who did decide to cast their votes. The election campaign seemed to arouse more interest and excitement than previous ones. This shows that the public can overcome its apathy and people who had never voted before can become motivated to go out and vote for a candidate or issue that they feel strongly about. Democracies are not perfect, but I believe that voting is important, and feeling helplessness and apathy about the running of your country is counterproductive. If you live in a democracy, it is worth using your right to vote.

3. The risk of assassination. As Israel marks the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, we are reminded that there have been several assassinations of US presidents and politicians. While I don't like to raise negative ideas, I can imagine that there could be people considering such an attempt. I really hope that the security team in charge of protecting President-elect Obama is doing a good job.

Although I am not a US citizen, I would like to wish the new president and his administration good luck. As the world's only superpower and largest economy, the US has great responsibilities for the whole world. It seems that Obama is currently more popular among non-US citizens than Bush ever was, and I hope his policies live up to the world's expectations, as far as possible.

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