It’s impossible to overestimate the symbolic value
of Barack Obama’s election to the US presidency,
particularly to African-Americans. Joy is utterly
justified. The positive impact of his victory will
resonate in a multitude of ways for years to come.
For America, and probably for the rest of us on
this planet, this is a turn for the better.
Let’s not get too carried away here. What really will
change? The United States has only changed leaders,
not the fundamentals of its economic system, nor its
gargantuan military-industrial complex, and the
chances of an Obama administration making a
profound difference to either are not great. As some
charismatic liberal-left leaders do, Obama will put a
nicer face on capitalism till the next right-wing
warmonger comes along. He will do good,
undoubtedly; that wouldn’t be hard after the harm
done by George W Bush. But the revolutionary
change that many of his his ecstatic followers seem
to think will happen won’t.
It feels mean saying that at such an historic moment,
but expecting the Earth of him is not doing Obama
any favours. Nothing but the most rigorous realism
will serve him well now.