So, history has been made. Not only do we have the first black Formula One champion but we also have the first black American president. OK, the former might not quite be on the same scale as the latter but poor old Lewis is being forgotten in the rush. He'll just have to console himself with the attentions of his Pussycat Doll. Poor lamb.
I stayed up and watched the election results until about 05.30am, just after Obama's acceptance speech. It was a funny old night. I chose to watch the BBC coverage because I cannot abide ITV and I think I would have cried at the overload of the CNN/FOX coverage. I should have probably watched SKY. The BBC coverage was atrocious. The technology was barely working, the studio was in chaos, the OB stuff was rarely prepared. It was embarassing. Bumble-by in the chair looked mostly pissed, was padding like a champion and rarely seemed to be able to get any enthusiasm up for it all.
Some of the guests were awesomely bad too. Simon Schama decided that the BBC should have called the election at around 100/200 and just mocked them for being scaredy-cats. The former US UN Ambassador was on, basically bad-mouthing anything that was said anti-Republican as BBC and liberal media bias. He was a cock. There was another guy on who I sort of recognised and all he did was rip into Sarah Palin at any opportunity. The best of the bunch was the politics professor with the dodgy wig who was just like an American version of Jon Snow!
In the depths of the night however, I did finally get it. For years I have become increasingly interested in America, Americans and Americana. I have found the marked differences between Brits and Yanks to be fascinating. Last night, listening to Obama's acceptance speech (and McCain's concession speech) the penny finally dropped. I may be making massive generalisations here, but America's history has been shaped by its politicians in a way that ours simply has not. Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush and now Obama. Even their none-political figures, like Martin Luther King, seem to have a greater resonance in popular culture. I watched the crowds and I listened to the passioned rhetoric and I realised that deep down, the Americans really do LOVE their country and the ideals that it stands for and whilst they may not like big government, they love big personalities to lead them and to champion those values that they love so much.
In contrast, we just don't. The majority of the population has precious little respect for the Royal Family - tolerance is about the best it gets. We despise anyone who dares call themselves a politician, from the lowest student politico to Gordon Brown and David Cameron. We have no core of values that we would dare own up to as the beliefs that bind the country together - look at the reaction of any exercise in 'Britishness'? We're even in a situation where if someone was to stand in the UK and make a speech like Obama did last night, I honestly believe some people would accuse him of being right-wing, racist and draped in nationalism. Well, he certainly was the latter because that is something that Americans have never had a problem embracing. We have and we will continue to until we overcome a little bit of our inner turmoil over Empire. Do we need an Asian Prime Minister? Could we handle an Asian Prime Minister? I don't think we could and thats sad.
I thought last night, as I was brushing my teeth, what sort of impact Obama could have on UK politics. Could Cameron capture that zeitgeist or is he too wrapped in the cloth of the established politic system? I doubt Brown could. Maybe the nearest we came to it was Blair in 1997 but even that wasn't quite right. What would happen if someone stood up in the UK and said that there was no North, no South, no Scottish, Welsh, English or Irish, no working class, no upper class, we are all British. What would happen if someone said to the British people that we have to stand by our core values - democracy, social justice and equality? What if someone asked the British people not to be a bunch of blame-game playing, super-cynical haters? To throw away the attitude of 'why the fuck should I?' and 'its not my fault!' and instead use the simple credo of 'yes we can!'
Sadly, I suspect the answer would be 'No, we can't. Now lets turn over to Eastenders.'
OK, so I might be being a little harsh on us here, romantacising the Obama charisma and generalising like a bugger but wouldn't it be fantastic if, just for once, we had someone who could wash away the self-hate, the distrust and the apathy and unite the United Kingdom? In our time maybe?