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If only Barack Obama was a Republican

In 1964, three young civil rights workers were abducted by die-hard white supremacist rednecks in Mississippi and cold-bloodedly murdered. Their crime? Assisting blacks to register as voters. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – one a black Mississippian and the other two Jewish human rights activists from New York – paid the ultimate price for confronting entrenched racial bigotry in the American Deep South. In those benighted times, merely allowing blacks to vote was regarded as anathema to an alarmingly high proportion of the population. The idea that a person of colour could successfully run for high office, let alone the highest office in the land, was, of course, beyond the realms of fantasy.
Let no-one mistake the significance of Barack Obama’s victory. It represents an astounding turn-about from a time when anti-black racism permeated every aspect of American society. A man whose father was not only black but was born and raised in Africa, has become President of the world’s most powerful nation. Even die-hard America haters will surely acknowledge the importance of what has happened.
Certainly, racism still exists in the US. Obama won despite his colour, and had he been white, his victory margin would almost certainly have been even greater. As I’ve observed previously on this blog, governments have a shelf life, and the Republican Party passed its sell-by date a long time ago. In addition (unlike the luckless Al Gore and John Kerry, the two previously unsuccessful Democratic candidates), Obama has loads of charisma and ran a brilliant campaign. Good luck to him. Given the present challenges facing him, particularly economic ones, he will shortly find that winning the election was the easy part.
My own feelings are nevertheless decidedly mixed. If I were a US citizen, I would be a full-blooded Republican. It gave me considerable pleasure when Bush unexpectedly defeated Kerry in 2004, not least because it was a well-deserved black eye for the lefty lobby, which had worked itself up into so intense a self-righteous frenzy over Dubya’s supposed villainy that its adherents were evidently incapable of anticipating that large numbers of people might disagree with them. When Bush snatched a clear-cut victory, far more convincing than his dubious 2000 squeaker, the leftist broadsheets reacted like spoiled children whose ice creams had been snatched away from them. This I thoroughly enjoyed. I have no problem with left-leaning views, so long as these are underpinned by a genuine commitment to democratic, humane values. I do have a problem with those who pose as champions of justice and human rights whilst joining with some of the world’s most barbarous dictatorships in a prolonged, unbalanced hymn of hate against the West.
Well, the situation has been turned on its head now, and it is my turn to “eat crow” as the saying goes. Even I have to admit, moreover, that the Republicans did not deserve re-election – they had run out of ideas, and the wheels were everywhere falling off. The fact that the lefties have something to cheer about will just have to be endured.


  • David Saks has worked for the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) since April 1997, and is currently its associate director. Over the years, he has written extensively on aspects of South African history, Judaism and the Middle East for local and international newspapers and journals. David has an MA in history from Rhodes University. Prior to joining the SAJBD, he was curator -- history at MuseumAfrica in Johannesburg. He is editor of the journal Jewish Affairs, appears regularly on local radio discussing Jewish and Middle East subjects and is a contributor to various Jewish publications.


  1. Jean Racine Jean Racine 5 November 2008

    David, the assumptions that you make about the Left are truly astounding. To wit:

    “I have no problem with [right]-leaning views, so long as these are underpinned by a genuine commitment to democratic, humane values.”

    You would admit that whether one is Left or Right, a whole range of facts could be summoned to support the above statement.

    “I do have a problem with those who pose as champions of justice and human rights whilst joining with some of the world’s most barbarous dictatorships…”

    Again, the same erroneous assumption that “palling” around with odious characters is the exclusive preserve of the Left.
    Pinochet, Suharto, anyone?

  2. david saks david saks 5 November 2008

    My beef with the left is that they assume a monopoly when it comes to determing what constitutes justice and human rights – they are the self-appointed high priests in this regard, which makes their palpable inconsistency, double standards in fact, so hard to stomach. Hence the near hysterical rage over the invasion of Iraq (admittedly a ghastly mistake, even if – a big if – a well meant one) while Russia’s current depredations in Georgia, to cite one example of many that could be envoked, elicits nary a squeak.

  3. Serathi  sa Marwatshipi tsebeng! Serathi sa Marwatshipi tsebeng! 6 November 2008

    The left – right is an interesting divide!
    As Jean point out above, none the corners can escape the folly of extremism. The outgoing administration in the US was based on the rihgtiousness of their course to be the police of the world – but they are leaving the world in more trouble than they found it. The deficit, the wars, the rejection by Eu, economic crisis, global warming – remember Katrina, Venezuela intact, Mugabe still there, Musharaf “recalled” the list goes on.
    It will be interesting to see whether the Obama tsunami will restore some semblence of respect for world bodies!

  4. Jean Racine Jean Racine 6 November 2008

    Right then, the 2 statements I quoted were just rhetorical flourishes in the heat of the moment.
    I take your point that the Left’s righteous evocation of social justice can be rather tiresome. But is it their fault that the Right has allowed the issue to be framed as Left concern?

    On Iraq, I find it amusing that from lying about the real reasons for going to war there, the Right then had to concoct a Lefty justification when caught out on their lies. You know, all that limp-wristed Left nonsense about nation-building and humanitarian intervention.

  5. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 6 November 2008


    I was too puzzled about this post to comment when I first read it. I could not see why you wanted a Republican. They gave us Bush, by a narrow margin. Do you not remember the Democrats e-mailing around the world their apologies at the time?

    And the problem with Bush was not the invasion of Iraq, but the follow up -how he mishandled the peace. He is an incredibly stupid, arrogant and opinionated man.

    Obama appears both intelligent and compassionate. Left and Right are pretty meaningless terms.

  6. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 8 November 2008


    You forget that Obama is a Christian, as are most Americans. Jerusalem, the birthplce of Christ, will not be handed over to a bunch of bloodthirsty fanatics; especially not when the Christians in the Lebanon will be the next target.

    If Obama can appoint Warren Buffet as a financial advisor; he can appoint as good advisors on the Middle East. I don’t think any fundamentalist twisted history will hold water.

    However it would help if you Jews compiled a list of what you had to abandon in the Middle East when you fled Muslim persecution in 1947. It does provide a bargaining and negotiating tool.

  7. Jean Jean 18 December 2008

    Interesting post.

    First off, its decidely insensitive and rather callous to call Iraq a mere mistake; given the suffering which has occurred as a result of the invasion.

    Secondly, its wrong to call Iraq a mistake because it wasn’t. It was never about the moral necessity of removing a dictator; it was never about the existence of weapons of mass destruction; it was never about rooting out terrorists intent on doing harm to the west; and, despite what Bush claimed, he never felt God telling him to do it.

    The invasion was America asserting its presence in a region of the world which will, in the future, be at the epicentre of world affairs. As power shifts east, so must America’s influence if they have any hope of maintaining their status.

    In those terms, Iraq is nothing but a succcess: they now have their puppet government, they now have even more of a military presence and their business interests are well entrenched in the region, not least of all because of the kickbacks from the war. It was a job well done, by a ‘Christian’ president who used his faith to justify his actions.

    The word that springs to mind is ‘duped’; all of us. Well done to the Republicans administration; losing power is irrelevant to them. They got what they wanted.

  8. Peter Peter 20 January 2009


    Supposed villainy????

    W would not join the ICT for a reason. Too afraid he and his VP would be first in the queue.

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