Thursday, November 06, 2008


I watched the TV coverage of the US Presidential Election on Tuesday night through to 3 am Wednesday morning. I love to watch our UK General Election too - these are wonderful occasions because they represent the 'school report' by the people on our politicians for the four or five years they have been leading our country.

I believe, for many reasons, the victory of Mr Obama is momentous in historical terms and does represent more than a wind of change. The world needs hope right now and looking around I ask myself where is that hope to come from among our current leaders?

I was impressed with his statesmanship upon accepting the victory and also the gracious way in which Mr McCain accepted defeat. Both men emerge with much credit.

We all know that the work is only just beginning for Mr Obama but the word that will not go away in my head is 'hope' and in my opinion this man offers the world that at the very least.

I wish Mr Obama well .... and to all US Citizens, I think you have made the right choice.


David Wike said...

I have already posted something to this effect but this is a more appropriate place for it so I’ll say it again: I am one of the many people the world over who are very happy with Barack Obama’s victory. I think that it is a stunning result and I agree with Trevor that it offers hope. Hope for change.

The image of America and the American people has been badly tarnished by the last eight years. And from the brief glimpses that we get from Europe, much within the US appears to be broken. We have to hope that the change of administration will herald this much needed change.

Of course, it is too much to expect that one man can change everything for the better, but as president of the most influential nation on earth, Barack Obama can provide the leadership required to enable others to make changes for the better.

I am sure that there will be many in the US and elsewhere who will be nervous about the election of this relatively unknown man. But just because he is not an ‘old hand’ does not mean that he cannot be a great president. After all, Margaret Thatcher was relatively unknown and inexperienced when she became leader of the Conservative party. I know that the comparison will not reassure some people! But there is a crucial difference. Margaret Thatcher was a conviction politician, as was Tony Blair. The problem with such people is that they don’t see when their convictions are wrong. I understand that Barack Obama knows what he doesn’t know. That is a good start in my book.

For all those who have doubts still, perhaps it is worth recalling the words of Franklin Roosevelt:

“The only limit to our realisation of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.”

Trevor Gay said...

Hi David - thank you - and we are in complete agreement- is that a first? :-)

Anonymous said...

Ok Trevor,

I have a lot of respect for you and I ditched Tom Peters' blog because I believe people were getting a little long in the jaw around there...Judith said that I wasn't credible anymore anyway. I hope that I'm credible enough for your blog!

Anyway, the way you state and see things is so much more refreshing than my overtly annoying American peers. I can understand the excitement, but we'll really need to see over the next 6-12 months whether or not the decision was right and full of change.

After meeting with Bush today, I'm sure Obama was thinking, "What in the F did I just get myself into?"

There is no doubt that Mr. Wike is right and I'm sure he would be disgusted to find out just how broken, and broke, we are in the United States. Change takes money, something of which the US has very little of right now.

I view Obama's untested skills as very similar to the rookie cornerback (American football) that's lucky enough to cover Terrill Owens or Randy Moss in man coverage. I believe that Obama's best years will be in the 3rd and 4th. By that time, he will have been burned by several veteran receivers (politicians).

You guys gave us Shakespeare and that is better than anything since the Bible.

In MacBeth, the three witches state something to the effect of "Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair." There is a reason why William was so hung up on tragedies, they're so prevelant in modern day life. His comedies are awesome as well...

I have a very different view of my situation in America and what I think with regard to our government. I am very blue collar and not fond of all the talk around change.

Anyway, I hope you're equal opportunity and give me a chance to provide a different perspective.

Cheers mate and keep the blog up, this is one of the better ones. I may have to contribute to your cause my friend.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor, I do believe that Obama can do wonders for improving the badly tattered American brand around the world. But he certainly has his work cut out for him.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Scott - you are welcome here and of course its equal opportunity. People vote with their mouse finger about which Blog they visit. I hope you find the conversation interesting. I think David has struck a chord with some folks from the US with his comments about being the US being broken but the thing I love most about you guys from over the pond is your enthusiasm and optimism - I hope your country never loses that unique American quality.

John - I think Mr Obama will be up for the challenge he faces - he will need plenty of good support around him but I feel he has the necessary drive and focus to lead effectively!

Anonymous said...

It's quite extraordinary how we pin hope on one set of shoulders. Surely the big lesson that Mr. McCain has taught us is that it will depend on the quality of the team he chooses around him.

"Hope" and "change" are very vague concepts. Hope for what? Change to what?

A former UK Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, said: "The main essentials of a successful prime minister are sleep and a sense of history." He was also very good at delegation. His term of office in the 60's was very succesful and we'll draw a discrete veil over his later days in the 70's when he appeared to lose the plot.

Another UK PM (Tony Blair) admits to largely wasting his first term by not being bold and not really understanding how government works. He also spent his last 18 months (his 3rd term) obsessing about his legacy without appearing to realise that the first 2 terms had already established that for him, like it or not.

I hope that President-elect Obama has the good sense to choose great people, to give them some tough but clear objectives and to stand back and let them get on with it. His role is to set the tone, to orchestrate his team and to keep them on track.

Anonymous said...

One other point. President-elect Obama mobilised and won donations from a huge number of voters with his internet campaign. What will he do to tap into this support? How will he mobilise them for change?

David Wike said...

Mark - The last paragraph of your first post sums up very well what I am trying to say in my monthly Random Ramblings newsletter, which aligns with Trevor’s oft stated view that you should let go (of the detail) to take control. Do you mind if I use it as a quote?

I agree that ‘hope’ and ‘change’ are pretty vague in themselves. We have to hope that Barack Obama knows what he wants to change and how he is going to set about it. And then does what you suggest. Perhaps you should offer your services!

Scott – I’m sure that you have the credibility to make a regular contribution to Trevor’s blog. The only thing is that you will need to learn about English football so that you can give examples that we understand! Here’s your first lesson: Manchester United are the richest club in the world; Liverpool are the greatest club in the world!

John – Revitalising a brand often entails revising the corporate ID. An updated version of the Stars & Stripes perhaps?

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark

“Hope” is not a vague concept to me at all. Here are 3 specific hopes from me for Mr Obama:

*Hope that he will be a peacemaker
*Hope that he will restore integrity to politics
*Hope that he will provide world leadership on re-distribution of wealth from those in the world who ‘have’ to those in the world who ‘have not’

I am sure he will follow up his amazingly successful campaign with appropriate follow through action to acknowledge the people who helped him win.

David – we are back to our more usual disagreement – ‘Liverpool are the greatest club in the world!’ – In your dreams. That statement was close to the truth about 25 years ago almost back to the days of black and white TV! Since 1990 of course, Liverpool have been put firmly in their place, in the shadow of the only English team with a genuine worldwide brand - my beloved Manchester United.

Scott will soon get to know this is merely good old ‘English banter’

JOHN O'LEARY said...

David, I wish we good bag our "Star-Spangled Banner" in favor of "America the Beautiful."

Trevor, I fully appreciate the Obama victory (which was a testimonial to the leaders he chose - and empowered - for his campaign team) but I'm already suffering campaign withdrawal symptoms. In the US these 2-year election campaigns just aren't long enough for some of us. But this shaking will stop once somebody announces for 2012 - which should happen any day now.

Judith Ellis said...

Hello - Thank you for this post, Trevor. I appreciate all of the comments here.

With the support for President-elect Obama, Americans and the people of the world are not hanging their entire hopes on one man. They are inspired by new leadership and the possibilty of renewal. I think what we are all experiencing in this very difficult global climate is the extraordinary desire for change. Americans have voted for change decisively.

The landslide electoral victory made me think of the words of Abraham Lincoln: "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world."

Thanks again, Trevor, for the post and the thoughtful comments here.

Trevor Gay said...

John - I'm sure you can find something to occupy your mind before it all starts up again! – Rock and Rollers always cope - Keep takin’ the pills!

Judith – I sense the spotlight of most of the world is well and truly on Mr Obama. He comes across as a strong man, very focused and able to deal with it. I hope that continues.

Anonymous said...

David - feel free to quote me.

Trevor - when you say, "Hope that he will..." then I agree 'hope' isn't vague. But when you say in your original post, "The world needs hope right now..." it is incredibly vague. Hope for what? And when don't we hope for something?

It's word we should be wary of when politicians speak it, unless it is qualified in the way you subsequently did. It's a word that allows us to read our own hopes into it and therefore allows politicians to say, "Well, I never specifically said..." I mistrust anyone who uses the word without having the clarity and courage to say, "Hope for this..." or "Hope that..."

Anonymous said...

Helpless and hopeless is the definition of depression- "It's no good and I can't change it".

The potential for improvement in America's fortunes was expressed by the joy and hope in the faces of the crowds that night.

The Obama campaign showed many people that their $20 donation counted, that their months of effort to encourage their neighbours to register to vote and to actually vote counted, that what they felt and feared and dreamt and hoped mattered.

If the new administration can convince these people that they cna work and sacrifice now to change their neighbourhood and their country for the better in the future, the promise of this election will be fulfilled.

IMHO of course- Lois Gory

Trevor Gay said...

I hear what you say Mark and I agree the qualification of the word ‘hope’ is necessary. I don’t share your mistrust in all politicians but again I can understand where you are coming from.

Moving on, I obviously need to expand my ‘incredibly vague’ statement that the world needs hope - how about these two specifics for starters?

First - ‘Hope’ to stop wars– when did killing each other up ever get anyone anywhere? – There are millions – probably billions of people who are ‘hoping’ to see wars end – ‘hope’ is all some people have left.

Second - ‘Hope’ to prevent 20,000 people - mainly children - dying every day due to extreme poverty – for those people ‘hope’ is definitely all they have left

I am hoping Mr Obama will show leadership on the world stage to address these two challenges because I struggle to see how we can claim to be 'advanced nations' while we allow these crazy and illogical situations to carry on.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Lois - I am a great believer that the whole theory of economic and social well being is actually about psychology - i.e. about how people 'feel.'

We only have to look at the absolute joy on the faces of so many people at the Obama celebrations to realise that something very special was going on.If you haven’t see it this is an awesome speech from Mr Obama captured on UTube – if anyone can view this and not be impressed with his passion …. then I’m an Irishman! Click Here

Anonymous said...

" . . . re-distribution of wealth from those in the world who ‘have’ to those in the world who ‘have not'."

Oh, Trevor, those words are an anathema to most Yanks, even after the Obama victory, for they are perilously equivalent to --

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. (Karl Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program", 1875)

This concept, to the extent it is a product of Government, is exactly contrary to indigenously American, bedrock principles of individual initiative and reward, the right to one's property (including wealth) - and the PURSUIT of happiness (not it's guarantee). The people who founded this country no longer wanted to be strapped by dependency on the sovereign for both benefit and tribulation. Rather, they yearned for the liberty to cultivate and exercise their own resources as they saw fit. They still yearn for this "American Dream" today - whether they cross our borders legally or illegally.

Because our grand experiment was so productive, we have been able to extend the fruits of that labor and that fulfilled promise to benefit myriad other peoples of the world, whether in mutual defense, rebuilding, or sustained economic aid.

That all would not have materialized if individual initiative was stifled by the assurance that the results of one's efforts, by law or fiat, were to be enjoyed by someone else.

From your other writings, I believe what you really mean may be what we call "charity". Making wealth available on a voluntary or democratically determined, targeted basis for altruistic purposes. We have never been short of that - and have historically garnered respect and thankfulness in return for it (whatever image problems the last eight years may have brought).

Be careful what you wish for when it comes to altering these fundamental premises of American success. Don't be too loose with the charitable aims of Americans. You could end up killing the golden goose.

Yes, a Proud American

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Dick

Thank so much for such a great comment. I certainly would not wish to undermine the American dream that you so eloquently describe. I think the US culture is to be greatly admired – I often say that. The liberty you fought for and that you maintain is worth fighting to keep. I realise too that the US already gives much as indeed does Britain and yes charities give too and that must also be maintained. But we can afford to give more and we are not giving enough to our fellow human beings on this planet.

On a world scale it cannot be fair that we in Britain and you in the US enjoy such relative affluence whilst our fellow citizens on this one planet - that we do not own but temporarily look after - do not know whether they will be alive tomorrow because of lack of food. How can we see that as acceptable politically in our allegedly advanced society in 2008?

Please be assured Dick my posting is not aimed at America - it is aimed at the world. I am British and proud of it but I also am a citizen of one world with responsibility for those less fortunate than me.

My great hope is that Mr Obama will lead the world in changing the balance of wealth on our planet – how great would that be?

I often use this quote:

“When I give money to the poor I am called a saint. When. I ask why the poor are hungry, I am called a communist.” - Dom Helder Camara (1909-1999)

Full title - Rev. Helder Pessoa Câmara, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recifé, Brazil.

Anonymous said...

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me a dollar...

Obama has urged the treasury to give another stimulus handout to citizens of the US to try and jumpstart the economy (the problem isn't the battery, it's the altenator). I guess there's no silver bullet because this is not an original idea. The first one really didn't work.

The problem with this thinking. With record foreclosures and job losses, the government should pour money into unemployment benefits instead of discretionary income. Until the economy recovers locally and globally, the US must be concerned that it doesn't lose a chunk of the middle class with this downturn. I don't agree with another stimulus, I would prefer to use the scalpel (I sound like Obama) and really help those in need; which isn't me, at least right now.

I believe that the US government should stand close to the principles of capitalism and not bail out our financial systems, auto makers, and airlines. A free market is not maintained by the government intervening at way too many levels. Left up to its devices, the market will take care of itself and adjust where demand is needed.

While watching our markets crash and burn, the United States would flush out the crap and create a position for companies to take control of their own future. While this would be painful, I believe a move like this would level the playing field for everyone.

Trevor----did Judith come over and blog with regard to the Hope topic? Does she understand that this is an equal credibility place of posting?

Back to basics of rolling up the sleeves and working hard to put food on the table; and our neighbors if necessary. We don't need the government to do this for us.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Scott – people who need the most help should get that. Our government is trying to reignite our UK economy but I suspect - as usual - the people are way ahead of the government.

"Once bitten twice shy" is an old saying here in the UK and I suspect people will think very carefully in future before being conned by silver-tongued salesmen from the money markets.

We borrowed too much – we were ALL too greedy - pure and simple and now the government has to help out. Frankly I think it was obscene to read about the size of the bonus payments made to bankers and individuals in the finance world. I wrote about this on my Blog almost two years ago before all these current problems which were as predictable as Christmas Day falling on 25th December!

I am all for individuals helping themselves – I have never had a day out of work in 40 years since leaving school at 16. I have regularly had my full time job plus at least two or three extra income jobs and once upon a time for three years I had a total of 5 different jobs. I have no problem whatsoever with individuals being expected to work hard and not being bailed out by the government for no reason.

What does hurt though is when I see families trying hard but struggling to make ends meet and worrying about whether they can meet their mortgage payments. This is no way to live and not something any government can stand by and allow to happen.

The government must help these people regardless of how they end up in that situation.

Indeed the true credibility of any nation is surely the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens and not by how much money people have in their bank accounts ….

But then I’m just an old socialist I guess … :- )

Judith Ellis said...

Happy Birthday, Scott. I hope you have many more.

Anonymous said...

The real challenges facing our nation aren't going to be resolved by the election of any individual or party. Solutions may require legislation but these are the same two parties that have continuously shown over the past decades they lack either the knowledge or courage to fix problems or the management skills to hold people and agencies for the results they get. Not to mention the fact that the focus isn't on serving constituents, it's raising money and meeting donors needs. Non-partisan? Piss off your party and lose the support and and resources you need to stay in office...only to repeat the process again. One need only look it Harry Reid's treatment of Senator Joe Lieberman because he did what...supported someone other than his party's choice. There was a great deal written during the campaign about how little difference there was between Senator Clinton's and the President elect's positions. Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta worked for whom? So far it's stimulus, and more bailouts. I'm not saying these steps aren't necessary or appropriate given the current situation. There is however a very familiar road being traveled. In the end it's not what you's what you do and only time will tell.

While the jury is out I'm avoiding the political and working in the local community. This is where the real change or solutions will be found!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor, you've probably noticed by now that when one posts on a political topic one is almost guaranteed to get 5 or 6 times more comments than usual. (I discovered that when I did a post on global warming on 2 years ago.) You can decide if the increase in volume is worth it. :-)

Trevor Gay said...

Dave – a fabulous comment as always. My all time favourite politician in the UK is Tony Benn who was never afraid to go against the par and he is driven by conviction. He often got in hot water and was considered by many as rebellious. To me and many others he was the best Prime Minister Britain never had. Even now at 83 years of age he is no respecter of party dogma – he just says it as it really is. You are so right that whatever party is in control we all have individual responsibility. We can all offer more to our own local community and you make a good case for it. Thank you again my friend.

John – when I worked in a pub behind the bar for many years we always banned talk in the pub of religion and politics – both subject are guaranteed to get the pulse racing and raising the temperature. I love political discussion because often we se the real person. I am very impressed with the number of folks who visit Simplicity Blog whatever the subject and I have noticed that some subjects create more diverse opinion and politics is one of those subjects.

And any increase in volume is always welcomed by me on this Blog – even (maybe especially) those who disagree with me – ‘please tell your friends’ is always my message : - )

Judith Ellis said...

Dave - I appreciate your comments, but c'mon now! Leiberman has to be dealt with, however gingerly. There appears to have been guidelines set up when he decided to back McCain that he did not adhere to. He supported down tickets and this was not a part of the agreement. Why an agreement? Order is important. He caucuses as a Democrat. Besides, it's politics!

Politics ain't called politics for just any old reason. And, yes, I can hear a gentle or perhaps not so gentle refrain that it shouldn't be. But as long as we have people we will have politics and factions. The significance would be getting through in spite of these and inspiring some people along the way.

I believe the President-elect has done just that. When he was seeking advice on whether to run there were a ton of naysayers, vey powerful Democratic ones who wanted the Clintons back in office and said that it wasn't "his time."

Thank God the President elect didn't listen to these guys. This should be inspiring for all of us as we reach forever higher and higher goals. It was inspiring to me to move forever forward in spite of the opinions of others. We want to listen to others for sure, but never discount our inner voice.

Regarding having those who know the ropes in politics, this is important. I would not want a neophyte in some positions. You see what a disaster Sarah Palin has been! To think that she could have been the VP or the President is truly ALARMING! She didn't even know that Africa was a continent. God, help us!

Yes, you want smart outside counsel, but you most certainly want those who understand the ways of Washington too or the counsel is meaningless. Change begins from within and without. Without both change may not happen.

Trevor - I agree. Discussion on politics can bring out the real person, but some of us are passionate period, whatever the topic! If at times passion gets the best of us, it would be big of us to admit it, offer apologies if necessary and move on. I am forever ready to do any of these at any time, perhaps precisely because politics has a way of igniting some serious passion. Thanks for the post.

David Wike said...

Like the pub in which Trevor worked, my speakers club bans speeches on politics, religion and adds in sex for good measure. Fortunately Trevor’s Simplicity bar has no such ban. But for a brief moment, let’s forget the unimportant stuff and just remind everybody that Liverpool won and Manchester United lost this weekend!

In talking about Tony Benn, Trevor says, “To me and many others he was the best Prime Minister Britain never had.” Hmm, Trevor is the first person I’ve ever come across who regarded him as anything other than a member of the loony left, albeit an honourable man without question. However, I dread to think what the UK would have been like after a few years of Benn as Prime Minister.

Someone defined politics as being the art of the possible. Sadly, these days the ‘possible’ means keeping backers (financial and otherwise) and the media on-side. That has a profound effect on the ability of politicians to do whatever they may consider necessary.

Just going back to one of John’s earlier comments about the length of an election campaign, US readers will be astounded in probability to learn that in the UK a campaign lasts but three weeks. Of course, there is unofficial campaigning ahead of that but formal campaigning is limited to three weeks. Of course, a key difference is that the election timing is at the discretion of the prime minister, up to a maximum of five years after the previous election. Invariably the election is called well in advance of the five year limit and is judged on when the PM thinks that his/her party is most likely to win (or lose least badly if it appears to be a lost cause). Additionally, there is no limit to the time or number of terms that a prime minister can serve.

Anonymous said...

Is that Judith posting again?

Judith...this campaign has done exactly what it wasn't supposed to do. Polarize the country with regard to political bantering. I have little respect for politicians in general; therefore I believe both candidates defile themselves regularly. Let's not forget the President elect ended up calling Nancy Reagan last week to apologize for off-color remarks. Isn't this the first week of his President electionship or whatever the hell he is? Iran already wants to meet with him and he's not even President yet. Think this causes a little bit of devision within the States? I remember both candidates agreeing to a clean campaign in the beginning of this.

You try too hard to get people to like Obama or side with the Democrats on their landslide victory. This creates more polarity between people in this country and abroad. Who cares? If Obama is successful doing what he says he's going to do about change, whatever that is, I'm all for it. I hope the country comes out on the other side a greater nation under a black leader. Until that happens though, this is all useless space and wasted breath.

The guy has the biggest uphill battle of any modern day President. 96% of the black vote went to Obama; does this indicate people are voting for color changes or political platforms? I'd like to meet the 4% that didn't vote for Obama and find out way? Now that would be interesting bloggin material.

Until Obama does something, who cares...I bet McCain drove away from this race saying to himself..."Thank God things turned out the way they did because the United States is unmistakenly wrecked from the inside-out." That's a race I bet he doesn't mind losing.

The more you tell me to like Obama, the less I like him. His policy will say more than anything else at this point...

Anonymous said...

- "Solutions may require legislation..." Probably.

- Solutions will require changes of mindset. Undoubtedly. The problem is, you can't legislate for changes of mindset.

- "His policy will say more than anything else..." No way.

- His actions and the results will be all that I will judge anyone on. Fine rhetoric is lovely to hear but actions are what changes lives and delivers happiness and prosperity.

- "...I’m just an old socialist..."

- "A young man who isn't a socialist hasn't got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn't got a head." David Lloyd George

Trevor Gay said...

David - Good to see Liverpool enjoying rare success in the premier league – enjoy it while it lasts. It is nice occasionally to see lesser teams have a little slice of glory in the premier league – after all Liverpool have not won the Premiership since it began 17 years ago whilst Man United have won it 10 or 11 times – I’m not sure exactly how many times as it has happened so often. I don’t have a problem with your temporary success. Do remember however the Premiership Trophy is presented to the winning team in May and not in November. Those who saw Tony Ben as part of the ‘Looney Left’ were probably just indoctrinated Daily Mail reading Tories. You ponder what Britain may have been like with Tony Benn as our Prime Minister. I suspect Britain would not have been to war 4 times in the last 30 years (Falklands, Iraq twice and Afghanistan) and many British soldiers would not have died– I’d settle for just that just for starters.

Mark – According to history David Lloyd George was a wise man – but we all say stupid things occasionally :-)

Anonymous said...

Mark JF...

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Action without policy is nothing more than wasted energy.

He must act through each of the branches of the US government. The only way his actions will be helpful to the people is if they become policy or law depending on how you want to spin this.