Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nous ne souvenons pas

Probably every blogger in Christendom is writing about the US election, and far be it from me to buck a trend.

As one of my recent posts indictates, I am ambivalent about the idea of the whole world celebrating the election of a president in a country where the vast majority of us have any standing. But it seems I am the only one. And here I was, not even trying to take an iconoclastic position.

So here in Toronto, there will be parties, lots of them, more than for our own recent election. It's as though the real government is being elected today, which I suppose is what bothers me about all this.

The Toronto Star, perhaps because the Conservatives won again, have pretty much given over their paper to Obamania, running headlines which, in the US, would have raised eyebrows, if not outrage. Over the past few weeks, we have seen headlines like "Black Canadians Cheer as Obama Edges Closer" and "Is this Canada's Obama?", the Star is seemingly desperate to capitalize on the Obama campaign and somehow make it relevant to us.

However, transposing American racial politics to Canada trivializes the enormity of Obama's election as US President, doesn't it? It also rather ignores Canada's own history and racial politics -where are the articles asking who a First Nations Prime Minister might be?

In fact, I believe the clearest analogy to Obama for Canadians is, no surprise, Trudeaumania. In 1968, Trudeau swept to power as a kind of messiah, and ran a policy wonkish government (I'm glossing over the FLQ crisis, I know) for 4 years which, according to Cabinet Ministers at the time, felt more like a grad seminar than a political environment. Trudeau almost lost the next election, and I would argue that, on some levels, he never fully recovered that potential.

So my concern is that around all this fervor, there will be disappointment. And I am almost certain that people will be deeply, deeply disappointed in Obama as President. Not because of his policies, or his actions, but because that's not what people are looking for. They are looking for the messiah.

All those atheists cheering for Obama are looking for the same thing as those who just come out and say he's the Messiah. And this isn't an epistemological point, it's a reflection of the fact that the impulse isn't theological, it's cultural.

Anyway, I'm out of steam here. Not sure if I have said anything interesting, but this is a blog, so in a week no one will ever read this again, until I embark on my political career or something like that!

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