Why Obama’s Victory Matters

[I just posted this as a comment to the thread below, and then decided it merited a post of its own. Let this be my way of saying goodnight on this great day for America, and the world.]

This is richard, burnt out after a long day. Thanks for all the comments. What we saw today was a tectonic shift, an entire new paradigm (pardon the cliché) of what America is, what it stands for and all that is possible when you give people freedom and democracy. I have a lot more to say, and will try to put up a post tomorrow summarizing all that I believe this election means. Simply put, the notion that America is a wonderful place, unlike any other on the planet in terms of hope and opportunity, has been restored.

I saw the great Chris Patten speak last weekend at the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, and he confessed that despite his reputation as a conservative, he was a proud “Obamamaniac” (he actually used that term). He explained it very simply: “Obama has made American politics respectable again.”

I want that to seep in. Something happened under Bush that we hadn’t seen before, something terrible and ugly. It wasn’t new or unique to Bush; indeed, it was Richard Nixon who first sowed the seeds, but it was under Bush that it blossomed and fully reared its head. And that is the tactic of not just pointing out where you and your enemies disagree, but to question the essence of their character, and to tie them to the most anti-American of forces. Nixon’s smearing of “the pink lady” Helen Gahagan Douglas was the first ominous sign of a whole new type of smear: claiming that your opponent is a Communist; in recent months, it was a terrorist-sympathizer, a sleeper-cell Muslim, a socialist-communist-Marxist. This evil technique lay dormant for some time after Watergate, but it never was abandoned. It relied on a fantasy, a big lie, but it worked wonders. Ronald Reagan’s stories of “welfare queens” (who did not exist) who were living high off the hog thanks to welfare, was an offshoot of this tactic of creating imaginary enemies and tying them to your opponent. Willie Horton was another example, playing on unspoken racist fears and creating an association of the opponent with madman black rapists and murderers.

It was only under Bush and Karl Rove and, inexplicably, the once-honorable McCain that this tactic reached its zenith. Just as with Willie Horton, the GOP spin-monsters created a psychological association between Obama and Muslim terrorists, marxists, vote fraudsters and even white terrorists or yesteryear. Just as with “the pink lady,” this was all nonsense, a total lie, and the Rove machine knew it. No matter; it worked wonders before with the Swift Boat Veterans and, irony of ironies, with the smearing of McCain himself in 2000.

That was a long way of describing why Patten’s words were so stirring. America has finally rejected big-lie smears. The most wonderful thing about this entire election has been that Obama turned the tables on the liars and rumor mongers, not by fighting fire with fire but by simply taking the high road. He never shouted or lost his temper, he never let the inane stories faze him. Instead he stuck to the issues and showed for the first time in years that a politician can speak to the public without invoking bogeymen or scare tactics, that he could communicate with the people at their level, about the real things that matter to them, not straw-man issues and murky allegations. He made politics respectable again. He changed the face of American politics and showed the world we are not a nation of self-deluded automatons who can be swayed to insanity by the snake-oil salesmen. And that leaves American politics in a very different place than it was just a few months ago. We can already feel it – America longs to be a kinder, gentler nation once again, to be respected by the world as a leader and a role model, not as a bully and a torturer.

I am not in America now, of course, but I urge you to see this post to get a feeling for just how palpable America’s joy and relief are. A great burden, an agony, has been lifted. We can breathe again, we can see light and we can have hope. As most of you know, Obama wasn’t my first choice, but I have seen what he can do and I am impressed. A shame that he now has to face the staggering mess Bush leaves in his wake, but I think most of us realize he can’t work miracles. He is not a messiah and no one except the right ever said, sneeringly, that he was. Let’s savor the victory for now, and then brace ourselves for a lot of hard, painful work that will need to be done to complete America’s transformation into a real country again, a country in which we can disagree with others without calling them terrorists or traitors, and in which we face the fact that we are all in this together. “God bless America,” as the somewhat hackneyed and overused expression goes. Somehow tonight, despite its inherent mawkishness, it seems appropriate.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 76 Comments

You are totally fantasizing an illusion about politics. I won’t comment on O’s policy since there isn’t any right now. Let’s hope that he can make it right.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:09 am | Comment

Fatbrick, knowing your commenting history here I’m not at all surprised to see your comment. (For instance, on January 9 you wrote, “McCain is always strong in N.H. I do not think he can carry on. Huckabee will win the Rep and he has the ideal personel features to be a president.”) But tell me, which part is the fantasy? I didn’t say a word – not one – about Obama’s policies in this post. I was commenting on political tactics and why America has rejected the tactics of the Bush GOP, and why Obama’s election is significant. So again, which sentence or point that I raise is fantasy?

November 6, 2008 @ 12:23 am | Comment

For exampel you said “He made politics respectable again. “…I always think this is a false statement.

And about my previous assumption…I used to think Hillary would carry Dem and Huckbee would carry Rep. The fact is that none of them make it. But M has to woo the same base that Huckbee has. This is telling, isn’t it.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:33 am | Comment

We woke up in a new America today, new in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:39 am | Comment

Well, Chris Patten said it, I happen to agree. Your reaction – “You are totally fantasizing an illusion about politics” – seems rather harsh, but that’s okay. I do know that Obama ran the kind of campaign most of us want to see in America, with a focus on issues, and displaying courtesy to his opponent. Period. Obviously this wasn’t the only reason why he won The economy, Iraq and Bush fatigue certainly helped. But there is no denying that he showed us all that you can run for president and win without stooping to slander or hysterics.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:39 am | Comment

Thanks Ellen. Isn’t it wonderful? Yes, he has a tough road ahead, but when we consider the alternative – Sarah Palin and 8 more years of Republican incompetence – this is a dream come true.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:41 am | Comment

fatbrick

“Since the creation of the Internet, the Earth’s rotation has been fueled, primarily, by the collective spinning of English teachers in their graves.”

I am not a native English speaker myself, but I just thought it was the perfect occasion to plug this joke, since I really did not understand the last part of your comment.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:48 am | Comment

I am a skeptic about O’s campaign. However I will always wait to see his policy. Making the current situation worse is rather difficult in my opinion.

A side note, what would he do if Israel desperates enough and attacks Iran before Jan., 2009?

November 6, 2008 @ 12:48 am | Comment

OAB,

Yes, actually my english is improving…lol

It should be “if Israel is desperate enough ” in my last post.

About your question, oab. I meant that I made mistakes about the prediction. But M had to find Palin to make the religious base happy is an evidence that my prediction on Huckbee is not off base that much.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:53 am | Comment

Although I am a wishful thinker for the good side. I am also skeptic of the Obama reign.

Israel won’t start anything by their own. They are a beacon of the US in an hostile land. You should focus on Iran, and their ties with China, Russia, etc. This is from where the shit could hit the fan as we say.

Pay attention to all the coming geo-strategical and economical moves that will unfold in the next months. I don’t know why yet, but it will clearly be a divide such as: The East Against the West scenario.

I thought we were done with this kind of Hollywood drama, but sadly no. Again, this is me analyzing the fist level of Drama for the mass. But if you look at the big game, it makes sense.

Maybe one day people will realize that these conflicts are a masquerade: Doctor says – Look over there! (inserting a probe in your rear approach’s style).

November 6, 2008 @ 12:58 am | Comment

I won’t comment on O’s policy since there isn’t any right now.

So ending the petrol tax holiday and not reinstating Bush’s tax cuts are not policies? He might not have developed policy on all issues, but he has committed himself to tangible actions.

November 6, 2008 @ 1:01 am | Comment

OAB

My comment was bit negative, but was not meant to discourage you to post. I personally appreciate your effort to post on this forum in English. I’ve been here (in China) for a while, and since I started to understand Chinese and improve my communication skills, I discovered a whole new realm of peoples and ideas.

I’ve got to understand that what I previously perceived as immature and childish babbling could take another dimension when spoken in a native language. And I am much more patient now to hear different voices from non English environments.

November 6, 2008 @ 1:12 am | Comment

I meant fatbrick…. Sorry…

November 6, 2008 @ 1:12 am | Comment

Oab,

I won’t agree with you on the diplomatic challenges that O would face. On geo-political front, I see people try not to provoke US since 1) oil money comes in slowly 2) other people are always the responsive side in the geopolitical game…considering US is the strongest country. So other parties would take a wait and see attitude.

Israel is a whole different matter. It might calculate differently about its own interests and seriously want to avoid a nuclear Iran at all costs. I must admit that I do not sure about what it is capable of.

And lots of things depend on the topic when you communicate with others.

November 6, 2008 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Raj,

Those are not policies. They are election language, slogans, or promises. I am mostly interested in the tax policy. We will see…

November 6, 2008 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Those are not policies. They are election language, slogans, or promises. I am mostly interested in the tax policy. We will see…

Fair enough.

November 6, 2008 @ 3:06 am | Comment

I’ve always been an Obama skeptic and still am, but leaving that aside something has happened that many people not long ago thought couldn’t happen in the real world. Congratulations America, you can be proud that in your country it is in fact possible for white, middle-class people to vote in a black man as president.

November 6, 2008 @ 3:27 am | Comment

http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/speeches/mccain-concession-speech.html#

I thought McCain gave a great concession speech.

Obama never claimed he will solve america’s challenges by himself. I believe there is some expectation that everyone will work for the greater good. Having an executive making decisions from a pragmatic point of view instead of ideology will be a significant improvement. Having an executive actively leading a cabinet to attend to all the branchs of government will be an improvement also.

Getting a congress to start passing appropriations bills that balance the budget prior to the start of the fiscal year will help also.

No one said there are easy answers. But there is a new “Decider” in town which will be a significant improvement also.

November 6, 2008 @ 5:56 am | Comment

I’m a big follower of the accident theory of history. Think of all the plans you’ve come up with in your life and think how many of them actually turned out as expected – not many, eh? However, every so often something comes right. I first saw Obama back at the start of last year (having vaguely noted his 2004 speech and never thought of it until seeing the man again). He is intelligent, articulate, well-informed, thoughtful both in action and deed, and not overly addicted to waffle, he is exactly the kind of person I would like to see take office in the UK, and the US is lucky to have him, by accident or design.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:34 am | Comment

he is exactly the kind of person I would like to see take office in the UK, and the US is lucky to have him, by accident or design

Did you hear what Cameron said to Brown at PMQs?

Did you tell the President-Elect that this is no time for a novice?

I wish the general election was next year instead of in 2010. Still hopefully he’ll get a good kicking in Glenrothes.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Comment

I voted for Obama because I wanted to get rid of the lunatics in the Executive Branch. But I don’t have any illusions about Obama. One can already see where we are headed by looking at Obama’s advisers. Obama deliberately avoided any substance in the campaign. We still don’t know what “Change” means. There’s a reason why we’re always getting screwed by both parties. It’s not an accident.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/11/05-8

November 6, 2008 @ 7:57 am | Comment

fatbrick,

Those are not policies. They are election language, slogans, or promises. I am mostly interested in the tax policy. We will see…

You can look up Obama’s policies here:
http://www.barackobama.com/issues/

They are pretty detailed. If you are interested in tax policy, hopefully this would satisfy you:

http://origin.barackobama.com/taxes/

I didn’t see any more detailed policy specs from McCain. Also, you don’t want to be too specific on your policies during the campain. Any compromise you have to make will upset some voters, and you also reduce your room for compromise during the legislative process after you are elected.

November 6, 2008 @ 8:00 am | Comment

As I wrote a couple of days ago, an Obama victory really DOES matter:

“America, despite its many imperfections and the transgressions foreign and domestic of the Bush era, remains the only unified counterweight of any substance to China’s ever increasing global influence. The world needs America to begin recovering some disillusioned allies and to acquire (as opposed to regain) the status of ‘responsible stakeholder’ in world affairs. The reason for this is, much to CCP’s glee, eight years of Bush blundering around the globe has seen US respect and clout shoved out the back door of many countries, while at the same time China has jammed an enticing and persistent foot in the same nations’ front doors, not to mention half a dozen despotic regimes that nobody else will do business with.

Democratically elected leaders are not always morally upstanding folk, but they are ultimately accountable to the electorate who help to keep them on a straight path through freedom of expression and the right to vote, two pillars of civilisation that lend themselves to moral responsibility even if they can’t guarantee it. What is certain, however, is that the leaders of any country lacking these two pillars will remain incapable of supporting any foreign initiative that doesn’t include obvious financial benefit or geopolitical advantage.

This is the main reason that today’s unfolding election is of such great importance to all of us: like it or not, American standing in the world, and more importantly its relationship with a powerful and resource-hungry China, is going to define the world of the coming decades. This relationship, and the path of humanity, can only be steered in a positive direction by an American president of exceptional intelligence, gravitas, and moral courage, drawing a clear distinction between himself and the last incumbent. Obama is the only candidate who gets a tick in every box.”

Of course it remains to be seen if Obama can deliver America from the legacy of the past eight years. That’s not a given, even if he is, as I believe, a truly exceptional human being deserving of the highest office on the planet.

November 6, 2008 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Krugman on the end of the “monster years”:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/the-monster-years/

http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=jyvaIH6RlNQ

November 6, 2008 @ 10:58 am | Comment

I’m kind of feeling ambivalent about the result. On the one hand it is great how a nation can self-examine, correct and improve itself and in this sense Obama’s victory is highly symbolic of the progress America has made in race relations these past 40 or 50 years.

But I feel bad about a man like John McCain losing. He seems like a good guy, an honorable and intelligent guy with a great sense of humour. I also feel bad for George Bush who also seems a good guy, a likeable guy with good intentions – but everyone is tearing at him like a pack of wolves. That is unseemly. And it was not his fault Sep 11 happened on his watch.

Obama just does not do it for me. That he has not achieved much but struts about as if he is some sort of great man just turns me off a bit. If you are a war hero like McCain, then maybe you have the right to inspire. If you are a scientific genius, a great general or have discovered a cure for Aids then you are inspirational. How for heaven’s sake can anyone be inspired by Obama? All he has proven to be good at is marketing himself. Talking in vague generalities about uniting people – all feel good bs.

So while the event of Obama’s ascension to America’s highest office may be inspiring, he himself is not.

By the way was watching Fox news a couple of hours ago. A Republican fellow – a regular Fox news contributor (not just someone off the street) who had been on the campaign trail with McCain said Palin had not known which countries were in NAFTA and thought that Africa was a single country, not a continent. I though I was hearing wrong. But the anchor Shepherd Smith who was dumbfounded asked for confirmation that what he had just heard was true or not – the guy said it was. If that is the case, regardless of Obama’s bad points, it seems America (and the world) just dodged a bullet in the packaging of a President Palin.

Just found the link (and this is FOX news)
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/11/05/palin-africa-continent/

November 6, 2008 @ 11:40 am | Comment

In my opinion, being a good guy doesn’t entitle one to lead the most powerful nation on earth.

“Hey buddy, you seem to be a good guy, here’s the key to the white house. You can watch football while I go out for 4 years…”

One of the underlying victory today, is the victory of intelligence. The US citizen elected an intellectual, this impresses me as much if not more that the fact that he is black.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

You also have to look at the people Obama has surrounded himself with. All smart and experienced in policy. (eg, Rubin, Buffett etc on the economy). The fact that he is at lot more intelligent, pragmatic, disciplined and inspirational than McCain is much more important than the color of his skin.

November 6, 2008 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

I just saw this. I am wondering whether this is the harbinger of what will look like for the next four years.

Dems Target Private Retirement Accounts
Democratic leaders in the U.S. House discuss confiscating 401(k)s, IRAs
http://www.carolinajournal.com/articles/display_story.html?id=5081

November 6, 2008 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

Yes Steve, the Dems are plotting to grab all of our retirement accounts. And we can trace this to Marxist-Leninist Obama.

Mongol Warrior, getting shot down in a plane doesn’t qualify someone to be president. If you can show me a single example of Obama “strutting around,” I’d love to see it. Until then, I’ll cmail you have no idea what you’re talking about (which other readers have alreadsy pointed out today in the threads on Taiwan). No one had more experioence than the architects of the Iraq war, by the way, and look at where we are today.

November 6, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Comment

I would argue getting shot down and being held as a POW for 5 years should cast a huge amount of doubt on someone being fit for the presidency. People who go through such immense trauma almost invariably experience long-term psychological and physical side-effects that can affect their judgment in unpredicatble ways for the rest of their lives.

November 6, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

All things considered, an Obama win is preferable over a McCain win (mainly because of the Palin problem). However that does not mean that Obama is not an arrogant prat – or are most Americans similarly so self-absorbed that they are oblivious to it in other people? I can provide links to a bucketful of pics which shows him arrogantly strutting around. But just read his victory speech – enough to make one vomit. He considers himself the embodiment of ‘the change we seek’ – haha – as if he is the God’s newest revelation. And just the title of his book “the Audacity of Hope” – what the hell does that mean? Does that not make you want to cringe Richard? Or is it simply a cultural thing where the cringe threshold of Americans is that much higher than that of most other people, Westerners included?

Does not the fact that he wrote a book (something about ‘dreams of fathers?’ -haha) about himself during the time he was a nobody strike no one here as quite weird? Or does every American believe really he is an actor in some Hollywood movie where he believes his own life has significance to the world in a measure far far greater than actual reality- it seems so.

November 6, 2008 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

Mongol warrior,

He considers himself the embodiment of ‘the change we seek’

It is self-evident simply because a majority of Americans voted for him. Or do you not understand the meaning of democracy.

November 6, 2008 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

He can’t vote and won’t be able to vote in all his life but he’s giving democracy lessons and making fun of it.

How paradoxical…

November 6, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

“But just read his victory speech – enough to make one vomit.”

Inspirational is the word your looking for – and that speech is even better listened to than it is on paper.

What does Hu Jintao have in the locker that could reach out to the people in that way? Oops, nearly forgot; nobody voted for him!

November 6, 2008 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

@Mongol Warrior25: Right on. I couldn’t agree with you more. I didn’t even bother voting in this election. Obama seems like a nice enough guy, but neither he nor McCain seem to have any real leadership abilities.

I feel bad for Bush too. I disagreed with a lot of his policies, but he didn’t deserve the extreme rage and hate poured on him by so many on the far Left. There was a good article about this in the Wall Street Journal by a lawyer who previously interned with John Kerry’s campaign the other day.

I hope conservatives will avoid this kind of nonsense, and keep some civility about them in the coming years, even when they strongly disagree. Anyway, I am glad we elected a black guy, but unlike many others, I wasn’t surprised. America is, and always has been, a wonderful place. It has it’s faults, but it’s no coincidence that this kind of thing happened in America before it happened in Europe or China or a million other places.

November 6, 2008 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Hu Jintao has gone through a lot in life. He studied something real and worked in a real job(engineer) – unlike Obama. He is a true technocrat. That is why China is gonna whip America. In China it is rule by technocrats (every member of the politburo is an engineer). China cares naught for ideology now – unlike the US. That is why China is gonna whip America’s ass in the not too distant future.

Hu Jintao is one of the most competent leaders around today. And he is not such a big head that he writes books entitled ‘audacity of hope’ —haha guffaw

November 6, 2008 @ 4:43 pm | Comment

“complete America’s transformation into a real country again”

Seriously dude, take a step out of your bubble once in a while. You must have no idea how stupid this sounds to most people.

November 6, 2008 @ 4:48 pm | Comment

Mongoloid Warrior

I think Hu Jintao is a good leader and I don’t think many have doubts about that.

But that’s not the point, the point is that he was not elected by the yellow race.

Do you understand this?

As opposed to us the rainbow color race, we choose our leader. So the leader we choose hopefully transcends our will and hopes as a country and as individuals.

November 6, 2008 @ 4:54 pm | Comment

Elections are one way, not necssearily the best way to select a leader. If elections were the best way to select a competent leader who would bring stability and prosperity in the quickest possible time, every single fortune 500 company would select their respective CEOs by ballot. And privates would vote for generals. So ‘By Oab’, the fact that Hu Jintao was not elected is nothing for him to feel bad about – China has its way of doing things, the US its own way. China does not interfere in the way US selects its leader. Americans should similarly respect China’s right to do things in its own way.

By the way George and Laura Bush have been incredibly gracious towards Obama – surprising that no one here has mentioned this – especially after all the crap Obama thrown their way.

November 6, 2008 @ 5:08 pm | Comment

Warrior: By the way George and Laura Bush have been incredibly gracious towards Obama – surprising that no one here has mentioned this – especially after all the crap Obama thrown their way.

Gee, you’re right, it’s really surprising no one mentioned this.

In case you can’t read, Warrior, this thread is about why Obama’s victory matters. It is not about Colin Powell (he cried – how come this thread doesn’t mention that?); it’s not about how William Ayers responded to the news (there’s a great New Yorker article about this – how come no one in this thread mentioned it? what’s wrong with you guys??); it’s not about how the stock market fell yesterday (big news!! how come you haven’t been commenting about that??); it’s not about how polite George and Laura were (which would only be a story if they weren’t gracious; if you think the fact that George Bush was polite to the next president is so newsworthy it demands discussion, it raises some serious questions of judgment).

One of the most out-of-nowhere, stone-cold dumb comments I’ve seen in a long time. And we get some very dumb comments here.

Interesting to see you’re yet one more of those ultra-nationalist Chinese who, surprise surprise, doesn’t live in China.

November 6, 2008 @ 5:19 pm | Comment

Hey, can’t help crashing on the party at this wee hour. Obama’s ascendance to presidency is an amazing American story. Who would thought that the son of a foreign student from Kenya would eventually become the leader of the free world? Domesetically, Obama victory represents a weclome “change”, whatever it means. Internationally, people could view Obama win as emergence of a more benigh America.Facing daunting tasks home and abroad, there won’t be any honeymoon for Obama.His administration will be tested and challenged from 1/20/09 on. The way that he has been running an impressive and decent campaign gives the reason to be optimistic about his ability to govern. We’ll see.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:03 pm | Comment

JJ, thanks for getting back to the point of this thread. I agree about your conclusion – the campaign does indeed reflect its leader. Bush’s campaigns were fueled by dirty tricks, innuendo and slander. They gave an ecellent preview of the kind of leader he would be.

Obama was very wise to go the other way. It was a wonderful moment when, in his acceptance speech, he mentioned McCain and the masses he was speaking to broke into applause and cheers. In McCain’s gracious and touching concession speech, when he mentioned Obama’s name the crowd simultaneously erupted in booing and jeering, and McCain had to plead with them to stop. I was really disappointed, and so glad that the angry right was finally voted out. McCain may be a decent guy, but by adopting the Bush playbook he encouraged division and rage, and America rejected it. Major praise to Obama for refusing to give in to those who urged him to “get tough” and “fight back.” He did fight back, by being a gentleman and showing he would not be fazed by absurd charges of terrorist sympathies, Marxism, being a Muslim, having a love child and mistresses, etc., etc.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:18 pm | Comment

Yeah, when Obama was leading on the poll, he played “not to lose” in the debate. Mccain side wanted him to be the angry black man. He wisely avoided the trap.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Interesting to see you’re yet one more of those ultra-nationalist Chinese who, surprise surprise, doesn’t live in China.

Not really. Fact that I am currently domiciled in Sydney does absolutely nothing to dampen my support for China. And being an overseas Chinese has nothing to do with the fact that China does not have elections or because of perceived human rights problems. Its all about economic opportunity. I alternate between here and Hong Kong, place of my birth. You are an American domiciled in China who is obviously still extremely interested in the well-being of the US – as are hundreds of thousands of other Americans who are overseas, both short and long term. Italians in America, Irish in America, Serbs in Sydney, Greeks in Melbourne and Turks in Germany are among the most patriotic towards their respective homelands in the world. Thousands of expats in Hong Kong many with anti-China views live in Hong Kong- they feel for the UK, Australia and New Zealand far more than they will ever feel for HK – they are there mainly for ecnomomic reasons – the same reason that I am in Sydney. Why are you in Beijing Richard?

Besides all this, regardless of where my views are written from, that has no bearing at all as to their validity or accuracy. And if being against the division of one’s own motherland invites the label ‘ultra-nationalist’ then any American who would not countenance their own country split along racial lines must be described in the same way and any American who admires Abraham Lincoln for starting a bloody civil war to preserve the union must be a raging frothing at the mouth uber-nationalist screwball.

As for electing Obama – thats great go ahead and congratulate yourselves. Half the reason why many whites voted for Obama was because of their desire to feel righteous – and that self-righteousness is sure on display right here on this message board – especially from anti-China posters like Stuart, an Englishman apparently doing just fine in Fujian.

Oab – how many mainland Chinese have you actually met who really give a damn whether China has elections or not? I have barely met one, either in China, Australia, New Zealand. There are a few in Hong Kong – but these are mostly try-hard wannabes who resent the fact that their British colonial masters have left never to return for all of eternity.

One of the most inspiring events in my life was taking part in the pro-China, anti-Dalai, pro-Olympics demonstrations in Australia and Auckland New Zealand earlier this year. Chinese came out in droves to support the motherland and denounce the Dalai fraud. These Chinese, including many in Hong Kong and of course mainland China represent the true voice of China – not the snivelling few dissenters who barely number several hundred out of a population of 1.3 billion (excluded of course are poor people and workers with genuine grievances. what I am talking of here are attention seekers like Hu Jia and Wang Dangs of the world)

Obama has an interesting past. But his presidency must not put the rest of the world off guard. At least Bush as an honest man, was an adversary that looked like the adversary. Obama could be a Trojan horse – the man who will destroy those who currently resist Western liberalism and decadence simply because they are distracted by the fact that he is a black man.

In McCain’s gracious and touching concession speech, when he mentioned Obama’s name the crowd simultaneously erupted in booing and jeering
Well of course Richard – they lost. If Obama had lost probably several of your cities would be burning by now.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:56 pm | Comment

No time to read your tome, running out. But saw the last line – you are wrong. It was like that at every Palin-McCain event – cries of traitor and jeering. They were magnets to white (very, very white) trash.

November 6, 2008 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

Mongoloid Warrior

Where to start…

The thing that you don’t realize is that something very big is going on in China currently. And this big thing is not what you think it is. It’s not the economic miracle, although there is a link.

The Insidious Global Culture Assimilation

Modern China is slowly becoming similar to America: culturally, socially and somehow and painfully politically. Thanks to your government for not preserving what most of Chinese consider as trash houses and lifestyle, it’s only making the process faster.

Every pseudo-developed city of China is a caricature of the States, with a MC Donald or a KFC on almost every corners of the city. Dunking Donuts is on its way and Crispy Cream as well.

Obesity rate has increased dramatically amongst the young population, there are zillions of satellite dishes on every building in modern cities, people use VPN to bypass the ridiculous GFW, the youth is turning its back on the Chinese traditions such as The Spring Festival while they are embracing Christmas and Halloween. The 90’s heartless and king child zombie generation is much more scary than what we produced during our flower power era. Because there is no ideology behind their eyes, only greed and ultra-selfishness.

People are piling up in soulless towers while dreaming of being able to buy a multimillion RMB villa with a 4 square meter garden. Grumbling on daily basis at the fact that “China has too many people!” (note: and for some twisted people even using this excuse whenever a couple of them die).

So you might say that China doesn’t focus on ideologies at the moment, but the US for sure does, and it’s now everywhere in your country. It’s insidious and extremely efficient. Much more than a war or a confrontation, because this approach changes people and their mind forever.

The question is: why do people adhere to this lifestyle?

Because they like it and it makes them happy.

One day, the critical mass of people with money and power will demand more control on their life and future, at all level (what we call in our rainbow land, the middle class). Right now the government is pouring the water outside a sinking boat with a spoon.

When Deng Xiao Ping opened the doors, he said “Hello” to globalization. So even if you think you’ll change the course of things to come, the foot of globalization is in the door. It’s too late. Sorry.

Democracy is not a pop trend or a cultural phenomenon, it’s the very essence of the human existence, the right to have a voice, the right to be able to express your vision of life and challenge others’ opinion. The right for you, as an individual and not as an Ant from a colony, to change things in this world.

200 years VS 5000, comparing the results, I’ll go with the first option, thank you.

Ask yourself a simple question: Why are the USA at the top of the world right now ?

Why Isn’t China or Russia? If you think your social model is so superior and great. I really wonder… Doesn’t it sound like a resounding failure message to you?

China might become an economical super power, but it will NEVER become an ideological and cultural power.

November 6, 2008 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

Oab: you just don’t get it do you. What China decides to copy, adopt or adapt from the West is its own business.

So if China wants to go with the consumerism and technological progress of the West that is fine. If it decides it wants these things but not a two party system then that is China’s and Chinas decision alone.

And this is where you really, really go off base:
If you think your social model is so superior and great. I really wonder… Doesn’t it sound like a resounding failure message to you?

China might become an economical super power, but it will NEVER become an ideological and cultural power.

China and Chiense really don’t care a white to show to the world that its own social system is so ‘great’ Could not care less. China has never had the hegemonic ambition and desire to control others that the West has always had. And if China becomes a great economic power with a military capable of defending her legitimate borders, that is enough for most Chinese. We really don’t care what Egyptians, Poles, Mexicans or English think of us. And we care not that they should emulate our social system.

This mindset of course is completely alien to the missionizing busy body approach of the West. Really I personally don’t care how Ethiopians run their affairs. I don’t care that some East African muslims practice female circumcision. I don’t care that Iran hangs homosexuals (if in fact they do -probably a media beatup). And I don’t worry about the fact that Saudi Arabia forbids women to drive. These people have the right to run their own countries the way they see fit.

Your statement is really an expression of hubris. It means everything to you that the US can boss people around the world over. It has never occurred to you that your own Western hegemonic impulses are simply absent from the mindsets of other peoples.

November 6, 2008 @ 10:16 pm | Comment

correction: China and Chiense really don’t care a whit to show to the world that its own social system is so ‘great’

November 6, 2008 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

Democracy is not a pop trend or a cultural phenomenon, it’s the very essence of the human existence, the right to have a voice, the right to be able to express your vision of life and challenge others’ opinion

I agree that government should rule for the benefit of the people. But whether this is best achieved by the ballot box is arguable. I doubt China would have made the progress it has made these past several decades if it had to piss around with elections every three or four years.

You talk about the superiority of the Western model -India has adopted such a model, yet life expectancy, infant mortality, child malnutrition is significantly worse in India than in China. China outperforms India on almost every measure of social and economic progress available. Comparing China to the West is, to be blunt, just plain dumb. The West spent most of its time invading, plundering countries like China and India right up to only 50 or 60 years ago. The West had its foot on China’s neck up to 1949. So obviously China is still backward compared with the West. But the fact that China has progressed so far in spite of her late start off the blocks is evidence that the path she has decided to take is the right one.

November 6, 2008 @ 10:30 pm | Comment

Woops, steve, I thought seizing 401 k’s was just one of those nasty McCain rumors. Now I see the Ghilarducci sponsor saying “I’m just rearranging the tax breaks that are available now for 401(k)s and spreading — spreading the wealth.”

Another reason the Obama victory matters. Just imagine if the wealth went unspread.

November 6, 2008 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Seems like the People’s Congress electing the Chinese President is somewhat similar to the Electoral College electing the US President.

November 6, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

I don’t totally disagree with you on certain of your points. I was just pointing at the irony of the situation.

I am not advocating the hegemony of any given system, but more let’s say, welcoming systems and ideas that comes from everywhere and not just from a bunch of self elevated and proclaimed elite class.

The best social experiment that represents this so far is the USA and Canada, and in the eyes of many, they are symbols and hopes of a good life.

This is my main point. Don’t you realize that these countries are an amalgam of many different visions from all around the world ? Do you wish that China becomes the equivalent of the hillbillies that lives secluded in the mountains, cut from the global reality and living in their own Chinese bubble ?

You are naive to think that the US influence is driven by white racist supremacists, very naive. We had conflicts in the past, many many conflicts, but the key point is that we are maturing, and day after day we are making it possible for different races, religions and beliefs to coexist together.

Your ethnocentric approach is a thing of the past now, like it or not. We as human evolve as a whole. Where we stand today reaches far beyond races and frontiers. And it’s just the beginning, so you better get used to it.

Your mentality is the perfect mirroring of the worse you can find here in China: Ultra-Selfishness and the “whatever happens outside of my very own reality is none of my business”, like watching a dead body on the floor, smoking cigarettes and casually discussing and waiting for somebody else to take care of the problem.

This is what I intended to write as my closing line:

Luckily this this kind of attitude is not the norm. Your mindset is on the list of the endangered species, but I don’t think anybody will lift a finger to rescue it.

But after reading your last post, I’ve come to a more honest and less incisive remark:

I’ve been living in China for many years, and I must admit that somehow it is challenging my past perception of our system. Strangely, I do see many advantages and benefits to having an authoritarian regime. I just feel sometimes that people are too dumb, and that in some occasions, it’s necessary to lead the mass.

But as the US has proven us recently, reason always prevail on the long run.

So, I can’t come with a definite answer to this right now. I’ll keep watching to see how the world evolves.

November 6, 2008 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

You do have some good points Mongol Warrior. But I hope that you could promote your beliefs in a way that sounds less like “China and Chinese people don’t give a shit about the rest of the world”.

Who knows, the future might be a combination of both our models. It’s quite possible…

November 6, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

Your mentality is the perfect mirroring of the worse you can find here in China: Ultra-Selfishness and the “whatever happens outside of my very own reality is none of my business”, like watching a dead body on the floor, smoking cigarettes and casually discussing and waiting for somebody else to take care of the problem.

Which was the way things were in America only 50 or 60 years ago – a function of a nations stage of development. Just watch any documentary on the Hoover dam – attitudes then similar to those in China today. And in any case your analogy is completely wrong. I’m all for nations rendering humanitarian aid to victims of cyclones, earthquakes. Nothing wrong with providing help in building up a poor country’s infracstructure, helping out with agriculture, clean drinking water. That is good intervention.

But it is altogether a different thing to to into another country and dictate to the people there the way they should run their country, that they should embrace Hollywood, feminism and the two party system.

I will help my neighbour out if his house catches fire, but I will refrain from dictating to him how he should raise his children.

You are naive to think that the US influence is driven by white racist supremacists, very naive Not my view at all – especially in light of Obamas election.

I just feel sometimes that people are too dumb, and that in some occasions, it’s necessary to lead the mass.

Unfortunately this is true. Without a numerically strong educated middle class with good civic virtues, democracy is just who can offer the biggest bribe. In the West it use to be only people with property who could vote. While this was certainly unfair, property owners would generally have been better educated than those without property. In fact those without property would most likely have been illiterate. China still has a long way to go before it has a population ready for Western style democracy. And in the end who really cares – certainly not 99.999% of Chinese people I know. And if they are happy with the way things are then that should be enough.

November 6, 2008 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

“Which was the way things were in America only 50 or 60 years ago”

No, I agree with you, I once made an analogy about this phenomenon in China, I also do think that there are similarities, only shifted a couple of decades apart.

So let’s say our vision is not so different: Why is there one side of you that speaks like a pro-china fanatic and why do you use such terms as Yellow race, etc ?

You are sending a mixed message and I am curious to understand your thinking. One side sounds like red Star and the other side makes sense and is rational.

?

November 6, 2008 @ 11:18 pm | Comment

But don’t you have any empathy for other human beings suffering atrocities outside of China?

I mean, basic human rights, such as the right to keep your body and your genital organs intact, the right to live your life the way you want, the right to be homosexual, the right to choose your religion, etc.

It’s a personal view, but for me I choose to try to change the reality of people in terrible situation into something better.

Right now in the US this is what is happening, people feel like they can change the world for the better. It might not be the agenda of the politicians, but I am sure it’s in the heart of the people. Why do you think a majority of these people are against the Iraq war ? Just because they don’t want to fight and they are sad about their loss (of course this is one reason)? Or because they know it’s a big fat lie and it’s just creating a mountain of shame on them and their nation ?

Did you see the people crying, me included, when they realized the impact of the symbolic meaning of having a black president in America while listening to Obama’s speech? It’s not just guilt from the past, it is hope, hope for a better future that doesn’t exclude anyone.

We are all in the same boat, so my hope tonight is that our discussion can help you promote this message. And it actually does influence me for doing so as well.

November 6, 2008 @ 11:36 pm | Comment

Mongol warrior,

And in the end who really cares – certainly not 99.999% of Chinese people I know

Of course you will never know how many Chinese care about it. There is only one way to find out — ask them, ie have a democracy!

November 6, 2008 @ 11:42 pm | Comment

Mongol Warrior,

But it is altogether a different thing to to into another country and dictate to the people there the way they should run their country

If you think China doesn’t promote its system abroad you don’t understand China’s foreign policy. China definitely supports communist parties in Nepal, India and many other countries with money etc (illegally I might add). Can you please ask China to stop interfering in the internal affairs of other countries before you ask Westerners to do the same in China.

November 6, 2008 @ 11:45 pm | Comment

I am always amazed by people like Mongol Warrior, who have absolutely no say in how their country is run (they cannot vote, cannot advocate for changes etc.), but at the same time support like automations whatever policy the current politbureau decrees.

November 7, 2008 @ 12:02 am | Comment

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. This concern was one motivation the founding fathers had for providing checks on the elements of the american system of government. Even good men with the best of intentions when given absolute power to do whatever they want with no accountability eventually go too far. Unfortunately in China there appears to be some acceptance or belief that some level of corruption in government is an acceptable entitlement of government officials. Also there the confucian philosophy and belief of viewing national leaders as “fathers” requiring filial piety from the “sons and daughters” who are their citizens puts the leaders in a position where the absolute power eventually corrupts them. Hu Jin Tao has some good attributes and has leadership abilities, but unfortunately his a man and fallible like all men are. So being in a position of absolute power it seems hard to believe that he has not been or will eventually be corrupted in some way, especially since it seems the people of china accept that powerful leaders are entitled to mistresses, kickbacks, bribes, some skim off the top, favorable business deals, etc.

I think this is one area that modern china has not yet figured out how to contend with. Currently the government does claim to be trying to fight corruption, but when they view their own personal “corruption” as an entitlement then they have compromised their own morality.

Using the rule of law to government men to prevent good men from becoming corrupt and to punish those who are corrupt is the path western cultures have taken. asian cultures believe in the cultivation of virtue in the individual instead of the use of law to punish the corrupt. Both ideas have merit. Western culture could do more to teach ideals of virtue, but asian cultures must also accept that man is fallible and that it is necessary to have appropriate laws and rules, transparency, checks and balances so that men are not tempted. Once a government official has accepted one bribe or accepted the idea that it is an entitlement then he has become corrupted and his judgement suspect. Also after accepting a bribe no matter how trivial then someone has a hold over him with potential to influence his decisions.

Hu Jin Tao has some good qualities but he most likely at somepoint in his career received a bribe, skimmed some money off the top, paid some kickback or accepted one, used his position to influence a business deal for a friend or relative, or had mistresses. Of course he is entitled after all he is the CCP’s huangdi.

This is the achilles heel of China’s government.

November 7, 2008 @ 1:09 am | Comment

If you think China doesn’t promote its system abroad you don’t understand China’s foreign policy. China definitely supports communist parties in Nepal, India and many other countries with money etc (illegally I might add).

MT. Not even China’s worst detractors accuse them of this. Absolute BS. The communists in Nepal (the Maoists – there are actually two factions – one Maoist – one Cuban leaning) received not a dime from China. In fact Maoists parties the world over consider the current Chinese government to be renegrades and reactionaries. And China has no interest anymore in promoting international revolution. You are 40 years out of date MT.

Interesting fact is of course the Nepalese Maoists were elected into power last year, and the Indian communists also take part in the parliamentary process of their country.

Anyone here with even the most basic understanding of Chinese affairs would recognize your statement to be absolutely absurd.

MT: Worse you obviously made it up. Otherwise please provide links to backup your assertion.

November 7, 2008 @ 5:38 am | Comment

I mean, basic human rights, such as the right to keep your body and your genital organs intact, the right to live your life the way you want, the right to be homosexual, the right to choose your religion, etc.

Oab- different cultures, different people have different ideas of what will best promote happiness. You may for instance think that a women who is veiled is oppressed. And in one sense you would be right. But one could also argue that women in the West are also oppressed because they are mostly judged by their looks and not their abilities. They are in fact simply seen as sexual objects. Look at the Palin phenomenon. This was a woman who would never have got close to even being a factory floor supervisor had she not been considered ‘hot’ – let alone contender for Vice president of the US. Her appeal was 90% the fact that she is considered ‘hot.’ Is that a good thing?

For me homosexuality is a thing for two adults to decide. And it does not bother me the sexual orientation of a complete stranger. But if some countries, like Iran, consider it to be anathema then that is their right. And the vast majority of Iranians, I guess, are happy with things this way. The right for the majority of Iranians to live in a society that reflects their religious beliefs, that reflects their values, trumps the right of a small minority to offend same majority.

And the right for a Falun Gong to practice his beliefs may not be as important as the need for the Chinese people to avoid the massive de-stabilization and chaos and civil strife and human suffering that has occurred in the past caused by very similar sorts of cults.

November 7, 2008 @ 5:56 am | Comment

It’s a personal view, but for me I choose to try to change the reality of people in terrible situation into something better.

I agree. But massive suffering in the world is happening right now and this is caused by extreme poverty. No other nation in recent years has done as much as China in uplfiting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Poverty alleviation is the greatest contribution any Third world government (or indeed first world government) can do to relieve suffering. And it is what 99.99% of the Chinese people care about most. China is doing this better than any other developing nation on the face of the earth. Poor people have more of a chance in China than poor people in India.

I would guess that never in human history have so many people had their lives improved in so short a period of time, as has happened in China these past two decades.

November 7, 2008 @ 6:27 am | Comment

…he most likely at somepoint in his career received a bribe, skimmed some money off the top, paid some kickback or accepted one, used his position to influence a business deal for a friend or relative, or had mistresses.

Lindel: sure you aren’t speaking of Bill Clinton???

November 7, 2008 @ 7:49 am | Comment

The world’s gone MAD!

Rush Limbaugh is now pushing the right-wing, Republican Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, as a possible future “savior” of the Republican “Cause”. Dig this—Jindal is an ethnic Indian. The world has gone MAD!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Jindal

November 7, 2008 @ 8:39 am | Comment

Mongol, where/when/from whom did Clinton ever receive a bribe? I’m getting a little tired of you and your playing fast and loose with your “facts.” Your comment above about moral relativism sickened me. Like, it’s okay for people to stone their 12=year-old daughters to death for the crime of being raped because that’s part of their “culture.” Some things are non-negotiable and flat-out wrong no matter what culture you’re in. If you don’t accept that, then absolutely anything goes. And as part of this blog’s culture, ignoramuses like you get banned. That’s just a warning. Please think before you comment.

November 7, 2008 @ 9:05 am | Comment

Like, it’s okay for people to stone their 12=year-old daughters to death for the crime of being raped because that’s part of their “culture.”

Never heard of something like that. You have a source?

Have heard of adulterers getting death. Not pleasant. Would not personally agree with such practices. But how safe are Iranian streets compared with the streets of Detroit? What is the teenage pregnancy rate in Iran compared with Chicago?

And do Iranian teenagers carry out car-jackings in baggy trousers while listening to gangster rap?

November 7, 2008 @ 10:07 am | Comment

MW,

Dude, it’s called honor killing, look it up dude, it’s sick…This happened awhile ago in Afghanistan (I’m sorry, maybe somewhere else) where someone who was rapped was in TURN RAPED by a bunch of ***ks and killed!!! That’s just EVIL…

November 7, 2008 @ 4:06 pm | Comment

For me homosexuality is a thing for two adults to decide. And it does not bother me the sexual orientation of a complete stranger. But if some countries, like Iran, consider it to be anathema then that is their right. And the vast majority of Iranians, I guess, are happy with things this way. The right for the majority of Iranians to live in a society that reflects their religious beliefs, that reflects their values, trumps the right of a small minority to offend same majority.

The right of a majority to be “undisturbed” by the existence of a group of non-offending people doesn’t supercede the right of various individuals to exist. You have to weigh cost/benefit. You shouldn’t be stoning random people to solve a collective psychological disorder; it creates dysfunctional societies. Even more so than the stuff that’s done in America.

November 7, 2008 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

The right of a majority to be “undisturbed” by the existence of a group of non-offending people doesn’t supercede the right of various individuals to exist.

Agree with you here. But at the same time it doesn’t really bother me how Iranians run Iran – whatever customs and folkways they have that is their business.

November 7, 2008 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

Buck — I’ve been talking about Bobby Jindal for a year, and months on this PK blog. Inshallah, he will be elected US president in 2016.

I have a friend who works in his administration. He is a fine person with a keen mind.

November 7, 2008 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

He has some interesting opinions about women’s reproductive rights.

November 7, 2008 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

Some Chinese views about Pr Obama

http://tinyurl.com/5a9k5z

November 8, 2008 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

Agree with you here. But at the same time it doesn’t really bother me how Iranians run Iran – whatever customs and folkways they have that is their business.

Executing people for stupid shit isn’t really disturbing as much as it is psychopathic. They should at least give them the chance to leave.

November 9, 2008 @ 7:51 am | Comment

Interesting how “many of those who said Barack Obama was anti-American or a friend of terrorists have been changing their tone” accoring to today’s NYTimes under the heading ‘Harsh Words About Obama? Never Mind Now.’ Talk about change!
.

November 9, 2008 @ 10:04 am | Comment

I never knew yogurt could come out my nose until I read Mongol saying “China has never had the hegemonic ambition and desire to control others that the West has always had.”

Seriously. That one was a shocker.

I’d love to deliver a rebuttal to the “electing a CEO” fallacy. I’ll do that when I can get the dairy product out of my nasal cavity.

November 10, 2008 @ 12:08 am | Comment

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