Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Night The World Watched

I remember, eight years ago when news filtered of Bush winning the 2000 election. Most of my Muslim friends in the US had been ardent supporters of the Republican ticket, driven mostly by anti-semitism (I fear) caused by the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

It was a long fight, but ultimately Gore conceded. I remember it rained on inauguration day. Thousands of protesters lined up to snarl at Bush's parade. Under black umbrellas and dark clouds, Bush took the oath of office, and an equally dark chapter began in America's history.

I remember, four years ago, when I stayed with CNN late in the night, hoping the result would turn, and then, on getting up in the morning, finding that Kerry had conceded the election. My mind thought the thought that an English paper The Daily Mirror had printed so eloquently - "How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?".

Yesterday, at 11 pm, as CNN made the historic projection, it seemed as if America had finally laid the ghosts of the Bush regime to rest.

Whereas the night had been dark and gloomy eight years ago, last night was crisp, bright, clear. The weather, as if on cue, was brilliant and unseasonably warm.

The celebrations - I have seen nothing like it following a political election. It was as if a team had won the World Series, or a country had won the World Cup. A colleague remarked to me this profound though, "I think the American people, whether they knew it or not, were oppressed. And they could feel it. For the last eight years, their freedoms have been suppressed, and their many rights slowly taken away, and their nation pillaged. Yesterday, something changed."

Now, as the USA embarks on a new era, I am reminded once more as to why, despite its many faults, America still remains a leader amongst nations, a truly great country, and a shining example of its ideals to the rest of the world.