The American Way
Of course, regardless of whom it is the electorate chooses in the final analysis to elevate, to bring into the White House, there will be an outcome no one can really foresee. If it is to be Senator McCain, the Republican choice, it will not necessarily result in a direct continuation of the last eight years. One shudders to think, however that it might.
If it is to be Barack Obama, a biracial American of great perceived promise as a new kind of leader, one who may present as a racial balm to a troubled country, a man with a social conscience far to the left of John McCain's whose own isn't entirely absent, the world will look upon that country as through a completely new lens of possibility.
A conciliator, he promises to be. One who extends the patience of offering to discuss matters with adversaries rather than to march into battle as the first line of offence. He has lived a privileged life, but he also knows how the underclass lives, and the middle class, and he promises to represent their interests first and foremost.
It remains to be seen whether, in 21st Century America, in great corporate America, that can be done. He is promising great things for his country's people, a leavening of its wealth to benefit all, a universal health system, opportunities for the country's youth for a better tomorrow on the near horizon.
The welfare system, the education system, the health system will undergo radical alterations under his tenure, he promises. He will tax the wealthy and the corporations, pull out of Iraq, and make big government waste a thing of the past. Sounds good, sounds very good. That alone should ensure he has more than sufficient votes to succeed.
His powers of persuasion have become legendary, in so short a time. People throng to hear him, to see him in person. He belabours his adversary for the position of chief executive, as representative of the same tired old discredited governing that has brought the United States to its current parlous economic and social decline.
He's right, of course. And is it solely his righteous declarations of trust, hope and charity that have gained him so many adherents, so many faithful among the electorate? Give a thought to the stupendous sums of money his campaign has been able to raise. Hundreds of millions of campaign dollars.
He has, in essence, been successful in raising, independent of public coffers, unlike his opponent, twice what John McCain is receiving. And he has, and is using those funds to good effect. His massive bombardments of campaign advertising and his hiring of public relations companies to create a skillful and powerfully engaging thrust in public confidence has gained him much.
He has earned the trust of countless supporters who work unstintingly to support his campaign, as fervent volunteers. There's a fever of accomplishment abroad in the land. The world looks on in amazement. Much, in truth, will have been gained, if the country votes to approve the ascent of a man who self-identifies as a black American.
Still, there's a niggling bit of discomfort in there. He may, in fact, prove himself to be as capable as he has led the electorate to believe. He may, in fact, produce an excellent administration, capable of steering his country in an entirely fresh and internationally useful direction.
Yet, apart from his social agenda, and his charismatic ability to arouse people and earn their support, he will have, by and large, bought the election. The United States is a great democracy, it is true. But it takes huge sums of money to make that democracy work through its elections process.
And Barack Obama has undoubtedly spent more money than any other single candidate for high office, before him. How does that square?