I have been waiting for Obama to win with bated breath for a long time now. I am not alone, of course. But now he is finally there, I have only just realised how deeply the last eight years has affected me (and the rest of the world).
Since the election of GW Bush, we have been living in a world where the strings were being pulled by a bunch of mediaeval despots. The victories of social conservatives in 2000 and 2004 really got the millennium off to a bad start. They talked about creationism, theistic anti-abortionism, intolerance of homosexuality, and a distrust of foreign cultures, un-American ideas, and intelligent thinking as though these were not only acceptable but righteous views to hold in the modern era. And they wanted to proselytise, to ram the neo-con ideology down our throats and burn the brown skinned infidels who could never be brought to salvation. In the new millenium, we were going back to a dark age, if not darker than any before.
The regression to pre-enlightenment culture was something I feared I was going to have to witness in my own lifetime. All round the world people felt that the US was burning with the dark fire of self-interest, of self-righteous ignorance not seen since the crusades. Wars were brewing up everywhere, the world was collapsing into an economic cess-pit, democracy was failing.
And then last night America elected Obama.
I was just writing in the past tense, which is not really accurate. We are still afflicted with the same global sickness. But I feel that I wanted to use the past tense for a reason. I have realised this morning just how much the nastiness across the Atlantic has set me under a foreboding cloud for the last eight years. I could only see it all as part of a general downward trend in human history. Last night represents a rejection of neo-conservatism, of prejudice, of holy wars and division by the most culturally and politically influential country in the world. I am not saying those forces are gone: they are still there and surely will be back to fight their disgusting cause again. But a vital battle against them has been won.
Now I feel that the US, the world and every one of us has woken to a new morning and a chance to shake off the depressing fug of the last decade. People will begin to trust the US more, slowly but surely. We can see this change in American politics as a second chance to start the new century against a better backdrop (and is not often you get a second chance at things).
And today I certainly feel better deep down than I have in years.