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Saturday, 8 November 2008

In Search of the British Obama

The man who should know whether there could be a British Obama says bias in the UK would hold such a surge of joyous meritocracy back. If so, that's a shame. But not entirely surprising. Those, such as myself, who live here in Britain, but observe it from an outsider position, can clearly detect the curvature of class beneath the skin - bluntly, some more force will be required to even this place out, to allow a level playing field. I think the key may well be education. Clearly, access to good schooling is paramount. But so too must ideas change. Americans "dream" and dream big - they will themselves to transform - and while it is sometimes terrifying to others (when the dreams are nightmares of domination) there is no denying the possibility of anything happening in the US of A - even very good things. That nation is a green beacon of excellence.

The UK, too, is a democracy, with much genius, yet it is timorous when it comes to change (its reference is resistance to revolution, not acceptance of it) - and this can be seen in an enduring provincialism of spirit, at its worse typified by anti-European, anti-American, and anti-international, thinking. An Obama style leader can come from the UK, but it will take a shift in thinking, as well as social structures (often of course the same thing). However, one final barrier remains: religion. President-elect Obama is a Christian convert. 54% of Roman Catholics who voted voted for him. He also did quite well with mainstream Protestants. Obama snatched the "God Vote" from McCain and the Republicans.

Note that the amazing joy of the American people after electing this great man was partly the joy of a religious nation, reaching out to the horizon of belief. Britain is a far more secular, even militantly atheist, society - and, famously, proud of its self-protecting "irony" (versus American sincerity). It is hard to have both a faith-based idealism such as lifted Obama up, and a cynical, secular elecorate, such as too often keeps Britain's political climate down. No God: No Obama.
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