If I was American I would probably vote Democrat because I tend to be left-leaning (in politics, not posture). So I am pleased that Obama won, but not a jubilant as everyone else seems to be. The right man may have won (only time will tell) but I don’t think he won for the right reasons.
Lots has been written and said about how historic it is that a black person has won, I don’t think quite as much progress has been made as people think. It is great that millions of white people weren’t deterred by the colour of his skin, but there is a flipside. An unprecedented turnout of black voters who felt they had someone they could now vote (from comments on the news and on the internet) suggests for many race was the only issue. If they won’t vote for white candidates, have things really changed that much? Of course white people don’t have the terrible history of being slaves or more recent segregation, but it is still racism if a black person won’t vote for someone because of their skin colour.
The fact is that Obama has more in common with Bush and other white politicians than he has with the majority of the people who voted for him. I find it worrying that people will only vote for someone who they perceived themselves to have something in common with, rather than who will do the best for them (this isn't necessarily going to be the same). I don't need a white working class woman from the north east to stand for election to consider voting.
Furthermore, from what I’ve seen of him, I quite liked John McCain but think he received some bad advice along the way in his campaign. He displayed a great amount of dignity in defeat which I think was a truer reflection of the man. He mainly suffered from the fact that people wanted change (and by change, I don’t mean that they didn’t want a white person in charge). He is from the same party as the current president and the economy is in a state so no matter who stood on either side, I think “the other party” would have won. The same is true here – the Conservatives will win the next election, not because of the charisma of David Cameron (I’ve seen bits of cardboard with more charisma), but because they aren’t Labour.
So, yesterday was a historic day, but I think some perspective is needed.