Reactions to Barack Obama in China


I’m not very much into politics. Partly because I have heard too many political rantings from people in my life. Armchair quarterbacks spouting off all the absolute truths of how things are, so convinced of how brilliant they are. I used to ask what they were doing about it, and get no fulfilling answer. They would vote in a presidential election, and that’s it. No time spent lobbying, no donations to special interest groups, no real world time devoted to their rantings. It bores me. Save it for the local Irish pub.

I also realize there are so many considerations to take into account, there are not easy solutions. The armchair quarterbacks don’t see the whole picture, don’t know the inside story. I’ve always wondered what it must be like for the president to make those tought decisions, having all the inside intel that we can’t see. Tough stuff.

But this post is about the reaction to Obama’s US presidential election. I write this because I’m living in China right now, and reaction over here is VERY strong. I’ve never seen anything like it before, and like I said I’m not really “into” politics. Ignorance is bliss for me in that area.

I remember the first time I heard of Obama – he was on Oprah. I was like “Where did this guy come from?”. I remember he was there talking with his wife. I thought it was odd, a presidential candidate talking with his wife. Why would he do that? Shouldn’t he be focusing on his campaign issues? I figured, oh well, it’s Oprah. And I thought that’s the last I would hear of him, just one of those minor candidates that would be weeded out. But I remember I was impressed by him, but of course knew there was no way he’d make to to the elections. We would never elect someone we hadn’t heard of like that. Maybe a Colin Powell sure, but not a newcomer. I’m so glad I don’t know anything about politics, and that I was wrong.

I started getting emails from friends back home before the election: “Make sure you vote!” – You’re voting aren’t you? Who are you voting for? You’re voting for Obama aren’t you? PLEASE say you’re voting for Obama! In fact I even had a pro-Obama youtube video posted on my website – a friend of mine didn’t watch the video, misinterpreted it and thought it was anti-Obama. They sent me a short email: “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can be your friend anymore.” Followed by an apology after they actually watched the full video and realized their mistake.

When the election results came in I started getting emails from friends in the states, very excited that Obama had won. Then I got several texts from co-workers and friends here in China, things like “Obama Baby!”. I go to have lunch and the waitress stands by me for several minutes and then says “Are you happy?”, and I say “No”, because I was a little down that day. She can’t believe it, she says “You are not happy that Obama won?”. And I was like “Oh, THAT! Yes, I’m happy”.

At work a fellow American was actually dancing down the halls yelling “We did it! We did it!”, referring to Obama. I know quite a few Indonesians here in China, they are mainly Muslim. They are very excited too. I ask them if they know that Obama spent part of his childhood living in Indonesia, and they say “Of course!” – and they are very excited too.

I remember many years ago saying that I would see a black president in my lifetime, but I thought it was going to be when I was much, much older. I had no idea America was ready for this already. I am so proud right now, as many of you are too. I’m proud that my America back home chose this. Like many of you, I think back to when I was a kid learning about the founding fathers. I think about being a kid and seeing “Roots”. I think about our Civil War. I think of all the marches, all the pain. All the people saying “one day” – but it was more of just a distant dream. But here it is – it’s real. And America wants it.

Since 9/11 I am very tired of the molds that America has to be. That is has to be only a “Christian nation” or only for “Joe the plumber”. It’s all things, it’s a fabric. Remember when one of Obama’s opponents tried to make a big deal that Obama’s father was Muslim, and showed pictures of Obama in African traditional clothing calling him a “traitor”? We don’t fall for that anymore. We’ve grown up a little bit.

And I guess I didn’t really realize how moving Obama was until I saw his victory speech on YouTube. This is a real president – a JFK, a Lincoln. At least it looks that way now.

And to the few supremacists still living in America – just wait a term and see what happens. I know you can’t fathom that, but the rest of America wants to see it. And you should at least respect our popular voice.

In fact I know of at least one Bush effigy burning party that was planned, but cancelled because the police here said it was illegal.

I was able to start voting in Presidential elections in 1984. And all that time til now I’ve always wondered, where are the JFK’s? The candidates never seemed like presidents to me, they just seemed like guys. Just some guy who did politics. Not a “president” – know what I mean? I used to think, with all the people in the United States, why don’t we have better people surface? Never even really good choices, in my opinion. Until now – here’s a “real president”.

And the best part of all – we never voted for him because he was black. We voted for him because was the best. And he rarely talked about being black, he didn’t go there. Ok, I’ll wrap this up so you can go read another blog where someone actually has something important to say. I’m just so happy, that’s it.

So just for the record: Yes, people over here in China are very happy. And I am excited to watch what happens from “beyond America’s shores”.

And when I watch Obama’s victory speech; I start to cry. Which is rare for me. But I can’t help it.


Here is an email that was forward to me, by “Cornelia”:

I will forever be profoundly grateful to be alive at this historic moment in our country.  The election, for me, is about a time for hope for all people.  It is a time when there is the beginning of promise that people all over the world will be looking at each other with dignity and compassion.  I believe we have elected a man who is bright, articulate, knowledgeable, willing to listen and bring to his presidency a wide range of advisors and consultants. He is also, and probably most importantly, a man of great inner strength and caring.
I am only now beginning to realize how important this election was to me.  The tears still keep running down my cheeks.  I want to savor this moment for the rest of my life. Perhaps John William (my grandson)  has a much greater possibility of growing up in a country which is once again grounded in the historic values of our forefathers.

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