08 November, 2008.

Thank you Bush for Giving Us Obama!

By Charles Quist-Adade, PhD

The best thing to have happened to Africans in this century is George Bush. Bush’s disastrous domestic and foreign policies made it possible for the first African American to be elected to the highest office in America. Bush’s political chicanery, failed leadership and jingoistic foreign policy conspired, as it were, to make Martin Luther King Jr.s dream of a colorblind America a reality faster than anticipated.

But if Obama’s historic victory yesterday arrived quicker than expected, the historic forces that propelled him to this monumental victory have not been so fast in coalescing. It has taken more than two hundred years for this moment to materialize. It has taken painful trials and tribulations, unspeakable difficulties and hardships, dashed dreams and aborted hopes to come this far.

This is understandable.

Received wisdom tells us that one cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. And the laws of dialectics show that change happens when thesis and antithesis fuse in a synergic whole. It has taken the destruction of lives and limbs of millions of Africans through the African holocaust—slavery, Jim Crow Segregation, and to Katrina to get here. But it has also taken ignited hopes and dodged determinism to reach dawn of the “change we believe in.”

Again, the law of dialectics proposes that change and progress are possible because the present and the past are inextricably linked, one in the other. In other words, the past is to be found in the present and the present, in the past. The Akan people of Ghana illustrate this dialectical truism better with their mythical Sankofa bird. The Sankofa bird looks back as it walks forward. The philosophical message embodied in the Sankofa is that a people can’t successfully operate in the present and move into the future without looking back to the past.

So the message for President-elect Barack Obama is simple: Let the sacrifices of our predecessors who died so we may live be the fountain from which you draw your wisdom and the source of your decisions and actions as you lead America into a better future for Americans and citizens of our global community.

Of course, not everything from the past is worth emulating. Our ancestors had their share of mistakes, omissions and commissions. But the law of dialectics teaches that past mistakes are worth looking at, for they serve as the guideposts for current and future decisions and actions. “People who forget their past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.”

Another law of dialectics points to what dialecticians term “the law of negation of the negation.” While Bush facilitated Obama’s victory and ascension to power, Obama is also a negation of Bush. However, Obama’s policies will not spring from a vacuum; they will, as it were, emerge from the womb of Bush’s failed policies.

However, what is even more important: Obama cannot hope to be a successful president if he does not reject Bushes policies, particularly his jingoistic foreign policies and gunboat diplomacy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world.

Obama cannot be successful if he fails to do exactly the opposite of what Bush has done during his eight years catastrophic rule. And that means Obama must end Bush’s unwinnable “war on global terrorism,” pull American troops from Iraq, and end the war in Afghanistan by negotiating with the Taliban. Too much blood has been shed in “hunting and smoking out” America’s supposed enemies. Too much money has been wasted on the unjustifiable wars; money which could have been better spent creating millions of jobs for Americans and saving millions of children around the world from dying from curable and preventable diseases.

To conclude, let me say this: While I pray for heir apparent Obama, I also pray for his predecessor, President Bush. Without Bush, there wouldn’t have been Obama, just as you can’t have Christ without the Anti-Christ. Nothing happens in a vacuum; life is a tangled web, politics even more so.

About the author: Dr. Charles Quist-Adade is a Sociology professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. He specializes in race and ethnic relations, globalization, and social justice.

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