Josh D. Scheinert Headshot

The American Election and a Renewed Ideal

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Confession -- I didn't vote; I couldn't vote. But I wanted to.

Like so many others around the world, I've spent my (young) adult life obsessing over American politics. I grew up watching the West Wing and imagined myself working in President Bartlet's White House. I spent my undergraduate degree studying history, taking as many American history courses as I could.

And now, I am happy.

I am happy because America, or more accurately the idea that is America, the promise that is America, which has captivated me all these years, was given four more years to work itself out under a President I believe in.

Very few nations signify what America does. It is the biggest and most important never-ending experiment in democracy. As our barometer, we non-Americans are in the unique position of being able to project our hopes and aspirations onto American democracy. We see in America what we want to see in the ideas behind it, because we want to believe that those ideas can work as we build our own democracies at home.

It is against this backdrop, against my projection onto America of what democracy can and should be, that I view President Obama's re-election as crucial, but also, thankfully, unremarkable.

President Obama's re-election is crucial because it removes the opportunity for cynics, those who refused to believe in the promise behind his election in 2008, from being able to say 'I told you so'. The young are not as naïve as they'd thought. Sure, President Obama's first term has had its disappointments, but his loss last night would have severely, if not fatally, undermined the promise of 2008 and the message behind the man. Instead it has been affirmed.

More importantly, I see last night's election as unremarkable and would contend that it has to be seen this way. Had Governor Romney and his backers won, that would have been remarkable. The contrast in the campaigns - what each stood for and the values they sought to enshrine, make this election result feel natural. It had to end this way.

The America that emerged last night, however divided, was one that unequivocally declared that those individuals who try to earn the public's trust by demeaning women have no place in that society. The America that emerged last night is one that said it is more about that you love than who you love. And the America that emerged last night is one that recognizes that a photograph of a country club's membership is not representative of the nation. The American tableau has changed in so many ways.

After losing in 2008 and again last night, fear, to me, has come out the biggest loser. The re-affirmation of inclusivity at the expense of the 'other' - an ephemeral unknown that apparently threatens a way of life familiar to only a few, will hopefully decisively put an end to the fear-mongering, race-baiting, homophobia, sexism, anti-immigrant and xenophobia that has become too mainstream in America.

Hate has no place in a nation's civil discourse and anger has no right to poison it.

Had those values won last night (let me state that I do not believe Governor Romney shares those values, only that he so cowardly refused to banish them from his following) that would have been the remarkable, and tragic, turn of events for the world's most important democracy.

There will be debates and division. How the nation brings its fiscal house in order and continues on the path to economic recovery remain to be seen. I for one hope that a more serious discussion over the President's drone policy will ensue, and that climate change, a non-issue until last week, emerges as a priority.

Yet regardless of the expected discord, last night America moved closer to achieving the ideals that I and so many others have projected on it. And while some Americans might rush to dismiss the importance of this conclusion, wanting to retain the exclusive rights to having a say in the direction their country takes, they cannot ignore the important leadership role their country plays - by how it acts, but also in the image it projects.

Thankfully after last night, those Americans need not worry. For when so many of us look from afar, we once again like what we see.