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5 November 2008

A great speech in history?

Barack Obama has won the US presidential election. While I have reservations about some of his protectionist policies and the economic effect they could have in countries, like Ireland, who have a large number of US multinationals it is clear that he is by far the better candidate with more of a vision on how to get the US, and the world, out of the current economic and military quagmires.

If you want to see a speech that captures a moment in time then watch his victory speech.

On one level it works as a victory and thank-you speech in a moment during what looks like the party of the decade. But we are also at a moment in time when public confidence in the worldwide economy and in America is perhaps at it’s lowest in history. Obama’s speech was designed to remind people that this can be turned around. The example of the 106 year old woman and the international crises she has lived through plus his use of quotes from the Gettysburg address will remind people that no matter how bad things look right now we have overcome similar, or worse, problems in the past.

Also he was careful to bring some reality to the situation. He reminded people that it will take longer than a year and possibly longer than a single presidential term to repair the current damage. The message was that the election today and the speech tonight won’t solve things in one sweep. But it was a speech designed to instil confidence in those who hear it. Much of the economy is built on confidence. There will be confidence that things will get better from now on. I think today you’ll see a bounce in stock markets worldwide as investor confidence returns and consumers will head into thanksgiving and Christmas with confidence that they can start spending again.

I think we may just have seen one of the great speeches of history.

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