Friends in the UK: How does Mr. Obama's victory affect your feelings towards America?
I posted a similar question weeks ago in which many people responded with cynicism towards Mr. Obama's chances of winning the Presidential election (I was somewhat doubtful myself). But now that he has won, I am hopeful that his character and open-minded policies will strengthen America's relationship with the world, especially in Europe, where for many years we have been criticized (rightfully so) for the ignorance, arrogance, and cultural insensitivity of our government and many of our citizens.
Having said that, Mr. Obama's ascent to the highest office in the land is a landmark achievement of race relations and social mobility in the western world, and I am proud to be a citizen of the country which facilitated this most unlikely progress. While, as a liberal American, I could only hope to see the United States ascend to the level of cultural vivacity and open-mindedness that is so characteristic of European society, I feel that we have, in a way, won an astounding victory. No longer can you condescendingly turn your noses up at our ignorance and lack of tolerance. As I mentioned before, many Americans have admired your society for its many endowing gifts, but having said that, I struggle to find an instance in which you have produced a leader such a s Mr. Obama who embodies racial reconciliation. Equiano maybe? Keith Vaz? Nevertheless, I'm certain that Obama's success will inspire countless young minorities to seek elected office, many of whom would have otherwise had little incentive or opportunity to do so.
Does Obama's victory reconcile any contemptuous views of America that you held? Does it revive the notion that America is "the land of opportunity?" Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Chris: You embody the "ignorance, arrogance, and cultural insensitivity" that I mentioned in my question.
- ShamblingLv 51 decade agoFavorite Answer
I am from England and have worked for a number of American companies.
I have travelled through California, Nevada and spent time in Chicago, New Jersey and New York. As in any group of people I found some great people that I’d like to spend more time and some people I wished I didn’t have to spend any time with at all – I treat people as I find them – their race, colour or creed does not change the way I treat people. People may disagree but I like to think I’m a moderate sort of person.
Enough background about me I will take your question a point at a time.
‘I am hopeful that his character and open-minded policies will strengthen America's relationship with the world, especially in Europe, where for many years we have been criticized (rightfully so) for the ignorance, arrogance, and cultural insensitivity of our government and many of our citizens.’
So do I. But we have an expression in the UK ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer’.
I can’t see that decades of ‘ignorance, arrogance, and cultural insensitivity of our government and’ some [I have deliberately misquoted you here] ‘of our citizens’ can be wiped out instantly.
The USA needs to be seen as the brother of the world - not the bully of the world.
And to be fair Obama has already said as much – he has even admitted that he might make mistakes (possibly a first for any politician - whatever side of the Atlantic!).
‘Having said that, Mr. Obama's ascent to the highest office in the land is a landmark achievement of race relations and social mobility in the western world, and I am proud to be a citizen of the country which facilitated this most unlikely progress.’
Excellent – a person should be proud of their country (I am of mine) and the country should make a person proud (mine does)
Also the leaders of the country should make the citizens of the country proud of them.
(If only, if only they did.)
But don’t let the waves of euphoria drown you.
Obama is going to have to make some really, really tough decisions - will he be seen to be as popular then – only time will tell.
One good thing – and it’s nothing to do with his political persuasions – he is a fantastic speaker. One of the worst advertisements for the USA abroad was the delivery style of G.W. Bush. It’s really up to Obama and his team to prove that they can ‘walk the talk’.
‘While, as a liberal American, I could only hope to see the United States ascend to the level of cultural vivacity and open-mindedness that is so characteristic of European society’
Oh really – you’re looking at Europe through very rose-tinted glasses! There are deep divisions between (and within) countries in Europe on some issues. Another expression for you to consider – ‘T’is distance lends enchantment to the view (Thomas Campbell – a Scottish poet).
And why use the word ‘ascend’? The USA has some great heritage and history (and to be fair, like the UK some bad heritage and history).
‘No longer can you condescendingly turn your noses up at our ignorance and lack of tolerance.’
Hold on, hold on why do you say condescendingly?
And, yes, we will question the USA if ‘we’ disagree with what you say – just as you will continue to question us if you think something is wrong. That’s what honest relationships are all about.
Also respect has to be earned over a long period and can be destroyed in seconds – that applies to us and the US.
‘As I mentioned before, many Americans have admired your society for its many endowing gifts,’
Steady on steady on please remove those rose-tinted spectacles!
‘but having said that, I struggle to find an instance in which you have produced a leader such as Mr. Obama who embodies racial reconciliation.’
Really? Try Paul Boateng (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Boateng – he ended up in the UK Cabinet and is now our High Commissioner in South Africa.
Maybe not – he was never a ‘leader’ but a mighty campaigner - something totally different and that’s not a criticism of his achievements. If fact you could say that Obama is in exactly this position – he’s run a great campaign and now has to live up to it – no mean task!
Maybe not see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Vaz
Let’s hope that Obama can avoid the ‘temptations of power’ that presented themselves to Keith Vaz.
‘Nevertheless, I'm certain that Obama's success will inspire countless young minorities to seek elected office, many of whom would have otherwise had little incentive or opportunity to do so.’
Can’t disagree with that at all! (People seize their own opportunities as well you know - Obama did!)
‘Does Obama's victory reconcile any contemptuous views of America that you held? ‘
Not really but then I didn’t have contemptuous views to start with!
As I said at the start – like any country (or group of people) some good, some bad some indifferent.
‘Does it revive the notion that America is "the land of opportunity’
To be fair – not particularly – successful people see opportunity and make their own success whichever land they live in.
I also hope that Obama makes America look ‘outwards from itself’ (this doesn’t mean that it has to be ‘policeman to the world’). As I’ve said I’ve been there – the place is incredibly large – but when I was in the States there was very little news from outside of the States.
Anyway by asking this question it does prove that some Americans can look ‘outwards’ – that’s an excellent start (and that wasn’t meant to sound condescending either!).
You seem to see Mr. Obama as a salve for everything you find disappointing in the USA – you may well be right.
I’ll leave with an old English proverb
‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating’.
- 1 decade ago
I truly hope that it will change not only Britain's opinion, but the world's.
For too long the world's opinion of USA has been based on Bush policies and rhetoric which does not reflect that of ordinary Americans.
I think over Bush's terms in office,the US has gone from being perceived as the big brother of the world (literal sense not 1984 sense) to being perceived as the playground bully.
I always felt that, barring blatant cheating, Obama would win.
Now I hope he can live up to the hope placed in him.
The Hamas announcement that they would negotiate with Obama is perhaps the first of many.
And before people start spouting about negotiating with terrorists, who would have believed that one day the UK government would negotiate with the IRA.
I have many American friends, and they have hated the way they are often perceived when they travel.
- michael wLv 71 decade ago
As a Brit living outside the UK I can only speak for myself. America has had enough of the Bush era so Obama may bring some new ideas to the US. At least Americans have to give the guy a chance to prove his worth.However I have a gut feeling that he will take the same line as Pres. Bush with his views regarding Israel, a country who can do no wrong in the eyes of the American government. If Obama is able to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians to both parties satisfaction then I will be really impressed. Sadly I think he also will bow down to the Jewish lobby in the government
- 1 decade ago
Yes, Bush was a bit of a dumb ***... and I'm sure over time, if Obama lives up to his word that the view of America by the International community will improve.
Folks who dis america as a whole are clearly not quite as educated as they think. For example, the fact that Prop 8 meant that gay marriage in CA is still on legal just seems arrogant to me, but that's not the view of the entire 50 states so judgement should not be made of an entire countries views.
The UK has its fair share of strange folk / distorted views (take the BNP for example)....
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- 1 decade ago
I stayed up to the wee small hours watching the results of your election and was caught up in the excitement of it all even though I've never been to America and don't know anybody over there. I thought Mr Obama would win and I hope he can turn things around for the better in the USA. I was living in South Africa and queued for hours when they had their first democratic elections. There was a real party atmosphere - everybody was happy - but unfortunately that country has gone downhill fast ever since. Anyway, good luck to Mr Obama - he has a tough job on his hands and I hope he comes through for you all.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
So what are you actually saying? Have our opinions changed on America since you have elected some1 thats black? Are you saying we should lead by example? Looks like you voted just so u can say u have a black president? He might be able to talk the talk, you dont no he can walk the walk yet. Hopefully he will be a good thing for u guys. I wouldnt want to live in the land of opportunity id be scared of getting sick and not being able have the money to get better.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
The people of Britain have slowly changed from being a nation of sceptics into a nation of cynics. Little wonder then that they responded to your original question as they did.
From our UK point of view the USA has dragged us into two wars which we are not ever going to win and have caused the biggest crash since 1929.
Strange as it may seem the only banks to have survived this mess are those of Spanish ownership who were forbidden by Spanish law from doing to the crap that US and UK and other banks got into.
Even now the banks of both US and UK are not lending to each other but instead are demanding ever bigger sums of 'dole' with which to pay their failed bankers even larger bonuses.
All this and more to come brought about by Americans.
So I will not give you my opinion right now.
- 4 years ago
Obama threw us under the bus in Germany and he will sell us out if elected. He wants us all to get along and pick flowers I guess. No, really, he is a supporter of all the countries having one government (the UN) and one currency. The world would be using euros not dollars. This is unacceptable as it would require the United States to give up its sovereignty.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
I wish it did. Unfortunately, I and several others here in the UK have a foreboding that he may not live to see the end of his first term in office.
Of course it is impressive that the American people have registered such a vote, that in historical terms is so soon after the civil rights movement of the 1960's brought equal rights to the consciousness of the mass. It is however, tinged with doubt and hesitation that I join in the celebration.
My generation remembers the assassination of John Kennedy, and also the stripping of Muhammad Ali's honours. Those stains do not wipe clean so easily.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
I had no contemptuous views of America in the first place.
Right from the word go I thought the fella' would win.
And I've never thought of America as the land of opportunity.