Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
5 November 2008

The Onion on the Obama win

My man won and I am ecstatic – I cried when the announcement was made and again when Obama delivered his victory speech. The same feeling of watching Nelson Mandela saluting the SA Airforce jets at his inauguration came over me: maybe human beings are not always that bad.

As I said before, over the next four years Barack Hussein Obama might well do many things to disappoint us here in South Africa, in the rest of Africa and the rest of the world. But for today I am amazed at the fact that the same Americans who voted for George W Bush could elect a black man President of the most powerful country in the world.

Satirical website The Onion has a classic post in this regard:

After emerging victorious from one of the most pivotal elections in history, president-elect Barack Obama will assume the role of commander in chief on Jan. 20, shattering a racial barrier the United States is, at long last, shitty enough to overcome.

Faced with losing everything, Americans took a long overdue step forward and elected Barack Obama.

Although polls going into the final weeks of October showed Sen. Obama in the lead, it remained unclear whether the failing economy, dilapidated housing market, crumbling national infrastructure, health care crisis, energy crisis, and five-year-long disastrous war in Iraq had made the nation crappy enough to rise above 300 years of racial prejudice and make lasting change.

“Today the American people have made their voices heard, and they have said, ‘Things are finally as terrible as we’re willing to tolerate,” said Obama, addressing a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters. “To elect a black man, in this country, and at this time—these last eight years must have really broken you.” Added Obama, “It’s a great day for our nation.”

Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked. Another contributing factor to Obama’s victory, political experts said, may have been the growing number of Americans who, faced with the complete collapse of their country, were at last able to abandon their preconceptions and cast their vote for a progressive African-American.

After enduring eight years of near  constant trauma, the United States is, at long last, ready for equality. Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday’s election.

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