El Comercio Op-Ed: Hoping for Obama

Excerpted editorial from Monday’s El Comercio newspaper:
By Dr. Enrique Bernales Ballesteros (Doctor of Law, constitutionalist, Executive Director of the Andean Jurists Commission)

If, as millions of people hope, Barack Obama is elected President of the United States, his election will imply change of worldwide dimensions.

It will be the first time a man of the black race assumes the presidency of the world’s top power. This advance against racial discrimination will signify a giant step in favor of free democracy and equality for all.

From a human rights perspective and a deep identification with the principle of non-discrimination, it will mean a stimulus for humanity, particularly for a race that historically has been excluded, in spite of the preamble principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

In another sense, Barack Obama embodies the realization of the American Dream and of opportunities for individual progress.

The American dream, in sharp contrast to the practice of slavery, of apartheid and the fanatic persecution of the black race by some groups, becomes a reality with Obama, who overcomes the resistances of a history charged with contraditions betweenthe  text and the facts

Another good reason to hope for Obama is that with him the Democrats will return to power and with it an end to the bad manners and aggressive fundamentalism of George W. Bush, as seen in Guantanamo, in Iraq, in the preventive wars, in the loss of liberties and privacy for citizens and in the hostility toward immigrants.

Obama is a return to idealism and of authentic liberal principles that gave birth to a magnificent nation. He is the line of continuity of the Founding Fathers, reason, respect for constitutional rights and good manners.

All that is expected of Obama is important for the United States and it is for the world. It is, because that country always gave the world the image of being the great guarantor of civilization. Philadelphia in the early years of independence gave us the extraordinary contribution of recognizing the three finest liberal rights: ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

This was followed by the rough individualism of the entrepreneurs who built the great cities and their great markets, the end of slavery and the sublime message of Abraham Lincoln, the audacity and inspiring leadership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the darkest times of the economic crisis, and the idealism of Kennedy.

The United States is also its open culture, its burgeoning middle class, its wise judges and its solid Constitution.

Barack Obama, in short, embodies the return to that country of values that were lost between the flight of hawks. May the return to its roots not be lost! And may hope blossom again.

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