The election has taken its toll in a surprising way. People here are still commenting on it, but in almost hushed tones. They admit to getting up early on election morning to see who won. There are even more comments on the Electoral College than eight years ago. That's an awfully strange way of electing a President is frequently heard. Interesting how long it has taken before people outside the US have finally understood it. Who devised this system? Explain it was around 1776. Bewilderment at the fact nothing has changed since then. Why not? OK there are big states and smaller states, in population if not in size, and how it would be next to impossible to change the status quo.
Two other comments follow immediately: fear and hope that nothing happens to Obama and distress on Palin having been nominated for Vice President. There is real concern for the President-elect's safety here. And utter astonishment at someone so unqualified not only being nominated but at how the system could be hijacked by its own process.
Yes We Can has become part of the language. A local newspaper has adopted it into a series on how citizens have changed their lives with this positive, uplifting phrase. It has even been changed around now that the Green Party has elected a Turkish-German citizen to lead it. Yes we Chem -- a play on this leader's first name.
It is an interesting time to ponder the differences in the systems on both sides of the Atlantic. Obama managed to start off his race on his own as an outsider and through enormous discipline, organization and brilliance win against so many odds. Anything like this is unthinkable over here where strict party rules would prohibit such a newcomer to rise so fast. On the other hand, there are far more political parties to choose from here and in the last twenty years two new parties are now in Parliament with voices in federal and state elections, the Green and the Left Party.
Among all the enormous problems facing the new administration, one of the most symbolic is Closing Guantanamo. How and When by Elisa Massimino at www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/18/opinion/edmassimino.php:
Closing Guantanamo will require more than the stroke of a pen. It will take comprehensive policy changes and a major investment of domestic and international political capital. But it can be done, and it can be done in the new administration's first year. .....For nearly seven years, Guantanamo has been a trap, not just for the prisoners held there but for American moral authority and global leadership. We have had the keys to unlock it all along. It is up to President-elect Obama to use them.