As the results of the 2012 US Presidential election were announced, you could practically hear the sigh of relief emanating from social networks and newspapers around the world. Relief that the voters had chosen to put their trust once again in Barack Obama, giving the Democrats the keys to the White House for another term.
For some, Obama was the lesser of two evils. But for me and for many people I know, he symbolises much more. He symbolises progress, the march of freedom, of equal rights, of social equality and democracy. He symbolises the inclusion of all minorities; as he said himself “It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it (here) in America if you’re willing to try.”
This election was a first for many things. It was the first time a black President was re-elected to the White House. It was the first time an open supporter of gay rights was voted in. It was the first time that any President mentioned the word “gay” in a presidential victory speech. And for the first time on the same night, three states voted in favour of gay marriage and a fourth state made steps towards gay equality by rejecting an appeal to ban it.
This series of first symbolises a new beginning and an important victory for gay rights campaigners across the States and as a repercussion: across the globe. Mankind has made a step into the future, a future in which everyone has the right to love and to marry the one they love, regardless of gender or sexuality. A small victory in global terms, but an important one nonetheless.
This election really has raised hope for many people, and confirmed that although divided, the US favours the path of democracy, freedom and equality. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done. Obama must overcome the political gridlock that is occurring and is putting a break on his promised plans. The next two years will be crucial for making the most of his time in the office, and staying true to the expectations he has set.
Many cynics will try and put a damper on the elections and their message. But many will refuse to focus on the negative, the fears, the doubts. Instead, they will find inspiration and hope in the results of the elections. And excitement, that indeed “the best is yet to come.”
Will Pike – November 2012