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How Much is Too Much? How is the Obamania Affecting You?

Posted by Sarah / January 20, 2009

tvobamaWhether you want to know what today is or not, you probably know that it's the much awaited day of Obama's inauguration. Personally, I'm a little disgruntled at how terribly saturated the Canadian media is with the coverage of this event. Just a few minutes ago, I had to turn off my favorite radio station because even they are following the trend. We're Canadians, so what's the big deal? Why is even the CBC falling into the pool of overzealous reporting of how great our neighbour's new president is. I get a bit of a strange feeling that resembles when I was a kid and my friend got a much better toy for Christmas than I did. Are we such masochists that we'd rather dwell on how much better our neighbours have it than focus on fixing out own problems?

Let me remind you that we still have Hamster-face Harper as Prime Minister of our beautiful country. We all know that he's screwing it up, yet we re-elected him anyway. People don't seem to care enough about Canadian politics to keep the Canadian version of Bush OUT of government. Why is that? Granted, our own politics may not have the same type of charisma over here. Maybe if Dion would've been a little sexier and bit more suave, a greater number of us would've moved their bums and gone to the polls last fall. Maybe all we need is our candidates to be a little sexier? Maybe if we had an aboriginal man running for office, we could also make history?

What is the media coverage saying about the people? The over saturation is there for a reason: because people want to hear about it. It's not the coming of the Christ... but Obama's being treated like he is. His inauguration is probably one of the biggest "mediatized" event ever, and let's face it... the man hasn't even done anything yet. Let's pace ourselves people. Imagine how much pressure all of these expectations are creating. He's being treated like the new messiah, and nothing good can come of projecting unrealistic expectations on someone, right? Obama says "change" and every bows down to him like the king of the universe. Let me just remind you people that he hasn't actually done anything yet. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the guy. He wants to make America better, godspeed! I'm just thinking that change can be good, change can be bad. Careful what you wish for. Last time we changed parties at the House of Commons, we "changed" alright. We stepped out of the Kyoto protocol amongst other things. I'm not saying Obama's going to do the bad change thing, I just think there's something scary about falling into the sheep pond.

Maybe it's because America is in such bad shape that people are being so positive about this brand new savior they have elected. Maybe they're thinking there's nowhere to go but up after a president like Bush. Sure. Why not? All I'm saying here is that I think that all of the pre-praise that people are putting on Obama's back is a dangerous avenue to walk on. Maybe I'm being a little cynical here, but I like to see what a man can do before I praise him for what he "says" he's going to do. Dreaming is nice, but he'd better put his money where his mouth is. I'll gladly join the crowd and celebrate once he's actually DONE something great that deserves all the praise he's getting.

What are your thoughts about the Obama madness? Does it make you mad? Are you cautiously optimistic like me? Does it make you feel like we're finally all saved from the big bad Bush?

Discussion

18 Comments

mrG / January 20, 2009 at 10:43 am
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Reluctantly, dishearteningly, I have to agree with you, on all points. I followed the campaign, I had no choice, my friends filled their blogs with the <i>Yes We Can</i> mantra and I even asked a few of them, "Can do <em>what?</em>" and no one seemed the least concerned that there was no answer to that question. Nothing beyond, "Can do better than that buffoon McCain" which I suspect, no, which I <em>hope</em> is true.

When did it happen? When did emotion overtake intellect as what we think of as the pinnacle of humanity's experience and contribution to the Universe? It is unthinkable now to have a writer who thinks, a composer or musician who thinks, a journalist who thinks ... or a politician who thinks. Today, you have to be like a Care Bear with your <i>Primary Colours</i> on you belly announcing your primal brain-chemistry balance.

Yes, I do hope Barack Obama is what people hope he is, whatever that is, and its my hope that whatever that is isn't in reality a political Rorchach Test.
mrG / January 20, 2009 at 11:11 am
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oh, and as for that buffoon Harper, this, sadly, is the inevitable outcome of our Parliamentary System when mixed with Party Politics; because the non-PC vote is hopelessly split, just as the non-Liberal vote was previously split between Day and Clark, we have no chance of change, none, zilch, and even if the Alliance (<i>sic</i>) were to gell out of the left, at best we'd have an impasse.

An <em>emotional</em> impasse. What we need is a move away from Gangland Politics and a move into the original forms of democratic <em>consensus</em> government, coupled with a modern enlightened awareness of social and organizational realities, a government that truly understands the mantra <i>We Are One</i> as not a national chant, but an <i>a priori</i> trans-species universal reality.
Michael Black / January 20, 2009 at 02:26 pm
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I don't pay attention to the US campaign. But
then when he won, I realized how much it meant.

I suppose younger people, or those who don't
know history, might not realize what it all
means. I have no idea how the speeches sound
to those who don't know, but for those who
do, you can hear subtle references to the past,
and basically how the riff-raff got to the
US presidency. It's in effect folding
Black history into common history.

The acceptance speech back in November quoted
Sam Cooke's "A Change is Going to Come", which
in effect referenced the civil rights movement.
Obama mentioned various events in that movement
that night, I think subtle so only "insiders"
really picked it up. They were layered with
other important points in US history.

Today, more explicit references, maybe most
explicitly by others. There was John Lewis
up there behind the new president, a leader
of SNCC, veteran of the sit ins and the 1961
Freedom Rides, and Freedom Summer in 1964.
I'm pretty sure it was him who stood up
when Obama mentioned how his father wouldn't
have been able to eat lunch just anywhere fifty
years ago.

Diane Feinstein mentioned those who had
given their lives in that struggle that
laid the foundation for a Black president
today. Those lives lost weren't in the
traditional "gave their lives for democracy"
which means defending the US, they gave their
lives to make change within the US, change
that shouldn't have been needed. Reverand
Lowery, so important in Martin Luther King's
work, gave more references, the only one I
can remember now is the one about being
at the mountain top.

All those people who fifty years ago had such hope,
and took such massive steps that only look small in
retrospect, challenging that which they didn't think
could be challenged, because to challenge it meant the
threat of violence, the threat of some retribution. Some
got beaten, some were killed. They were nobodies,
their power completely derived from their right,
and they claimed it.

They decided they'd no longer sit at the back
of the bus, they decided they'd not eat at
segregated lunch counters, they decided they'd
go to the schools they wanted to, they decided
they'd claim the right to vote. They decided
to be treated a different way.

If people hadn't gone down to Missisippi in '64,
then voter registration wouldn't have started
that year. If the reaction to the desire for
change hadn't happened, the fire hoses and
the dogs and the killing of three young teenagers
in Birmingham in Sept. of 1963, and three murdered
at the start of Freedom Summer in '64, then it's
hard to say if new laws would have been implemented
to allow those civil rights. And even when federal laws
were passed in the US to forbid some of what
was happening, it had to be reinforced by people
claiming those rights.

And that changed things, so the riff-raff could
get into power, because they were able to run
and there was a base of the population that would
vote for them. And then it stalled.

The people who were killed never saw the day
when a black man would be president of the US. But
even sadder is all those people who were so young
and had such hope, who grew old waiting for that
day. They were in their teens and twenties fifty
years ago, they are old now. But they got to
see that day. Some missed the big day by just
a few years, people like Rosa Parks and the
mothers of James Chaney and Andrew Goodman (who
were two of the three killed at the start of
Freedom Summer) and Coretta Scott King. Even one
of Martin Luther King's children, Yolanda, died
less than two years ago.

This day didn't happen without all of that, and
it now becomes American History because it is
the steps that made a Black US president possible.

It was a huge step to make, which is why it took
so many decades after that big wave of change. But
by being there, the step is now smaller.

The Civil Rights Movement was important not just
because of what it changed, but because it was
about the power of the individual. And a "nobody"
getting into power is just an extension of that.
The US now has a president that reflects that population,
it renews the hope of the Civil Rights Movement. People
who wouldn't vote because nobody on the ballot was
what they saw in their mirror now see themselves. The
cliche that anyone can be the President of the US is
now more or less true, a barrier broken that lets the
rest in. That's a radical shift, just like Rosa Parks
refusing to go to the back of the bus. It gives others
power, rather than taking power from others.

His presidency brings someone who isn't locked in the
old networks of power, not even the Civil Rights oldtimers
who had always seemed like the logical choice for the
first black US president. It's the first time in my life
that a US president has been younger than me. By his
being someone else than the old white guard, he has already
made change.

Fifty years is both a short and long time. It was long enough
ago that black and white tv and movies was still common, as
were outhouses. And segregation. But it's also the exact span
of my life, which means it isn't a long time. This is a day
for crying because it recognizes the people who fifty years
ago wanted change. It's a day to be happy for Michelle Obama's
mother, sitting up there minding the children, who is old enough
to remember the old days. In fifty years, there was only one greater
day, back in July of 1969 when man first walked on the moon.

Michael
soundbyte / January 20, 2009 at 02:28 pm
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"We're Canadians, so what's the big deal?" Yeah you're right, I mean, Martin Luther King's speeches, the whole civil rights movement, those didn't really resonate north of the border right? Just some American thing...would you have the same reaction if Hillary Clinton had been elected president? Would it still be too much media coverage then? Let me say that as a black man living in Canada, I have the utmost respect for the path walked by those far greater than I in unbelievably harsh times, and therefore a profound appreciation for what today means, in its larger sense. Perhaps you're too young/jaded to realise what the moment represents, maybe you've always thought it as inevitable that one day there'd be black US president, or a female PM or what have you; the fact that Barack's election resonates worldwide (e.g France electing its first black judge; the UK appointing its first black & first female law officer in the House of Lords) is proof that people all over are seeking true change. The extent of the coverage serves to highlight the missteps of the past 8 years; sure, Canadians didn't elect Bush, but you're naive to think that the policies implemented by this new administration won't effect Canada directly. Canadian politics to me is pure monkey business, constantly hamstrung by toothless laws....I mean right here we can't even figure out how to properly address the ridiculous price-fixing that causes gas to jump from 70 cents to 91 cents/litre in the space of 10 hours!!! Yes, the political scene is unsexy; more than that, politicians here don't seem to know how to speak effectively, much less motivate citizens to take action on the issues. What we're seeing is someone who is encouraging/promoting change in so many different arenas, not just politically, but in the workforce, in the economy, in communities where regular people live; I don't think anybody thinks this is the magic pill to cure all ills, but it does represent a huge *step* in the right direction, something Obama himself has stressed. It's a shame you're missing the bigger picture....
Sarah / January 20, 2009 at 03:05 pm
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Thanks for your comments people. I mean that sincerely.
Contrary to what you seem to think, I do see the bigger picture. I know how much it means to black people everywhere, and how it means change in more than one way. I do see that.
My rant is not against Obama. I respect the man and praise to him for getting where he is. I believe he was rightfully put there because he deserves it.
What I wanted to point out was mainly that the inauguration is only one step of the way. He hasn't changed the world yet, though he does represent a certain movement for change. He is not the ONLY one ruling the US and only time will tell what good may come out of his presidency.
What I reject is the fairytale projection of the media over this whole ordeal. They are turning him into a larger than life figure and filling the jar with expectations. He is only a man and will only be able to do what is humanly possible. Expectations can be deceiving and can easily blow up in your face.
For the record, I would've had the same reaction if a monkey would've been elected president and if the media would've made such a huge deal out of it. My reaction is aimed at the media, at the sheepish way people jump into fanaticism, not at the new president. I understand what the big deal is. I am ticked off at not being able to get a break from all of this and from the lack of variety of information in the news bulletins. The insistence of the glorification is wearing my patience thin.

I was raised to believe all men are created equal no matter their race or what have you. This is why, to me, it's not because he's black that he's better than anyone else. Granted, he probably had to work a hell of a lot harder to get where he is, but that does not necessarily prescribe what will happen next. What he does with his power now, we will see. It's normal have great expectations of new leaders. What I feel is not normal is the level exaggeration that the expectations on this poor man's back are with all this hoopla.
seelola / January 22, 2009 at 12:18 am
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I guess, whether anyone likes it or not, the fact that Obama made it into the white house is symbolic. It means attitudes are changing and people are becoming more open-minded. (Not everyone, but more of the population). A lot of people are wondering why people got so excited over the inauguration when he hasn't actually done anything yet. But The fact that Barack made it to the inauguration at all is something to celebrate. Whether we like it or not, this is a historic event and I chose to celebrate it because it means something to me about the changing state of the world we live in.

Obviously Obama is only human, and humans make mistakes. He's been set up with a pretty crappy situation to work with. He can't just walk in and wave a magic wand to fix the world's problems. But, that's not what he's promised and everyone knows that. THe media will criticize him for decisions he makes once he's on the job, as will much of the population.

There are plenty of news sites that report on other global events. In a time of online news services I don't think we can complain that we're only being fed certain stories. If you don't like what CBC is saying, read something else!
Montreallover / September 26, 2009 at 05:43 pm
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The question is not that he make mistakes or no. The real question is that he has got the country Govt at very crucial time when the economy was in real bad shape. I think he should immediately pull his army back from other countries to reduce expenses.
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