Lots of BULS will be watching the results come in in Joes, our Guild of Students bar, until the small hours of the morning. Every time I catch the news, I get more excited.
George Bush came to power when I was thirteen, and became instantly a big part of my political awareness, embodying to the younger me everything that was wrong with the world at the time. His policies on third world aid, contraception, gay rights, abortion, capital punishment, taxation, foreign affairs, education, healthcare, everything, the injustice of him holding office at all, left me cold; I long ago had to take down my poster of his misquotes, for I couldn’t bear to laugh at someone who had caused such misery to so many. The anger me and my friends felt on the day he visited the UK, and we marched through London, years ago now, still burns up again in me every time he appears on television or in the press. Now, at the grand old age of twenty-one I can see things a lot less simplistically than I used to, and realise that the films of Michael Moore are not gospel; but a large part of that childhood passion is still there. The thought that tonight his successor will be chosen, and there’s an excellent chance he’ll be against everything Bush stood for, is something still incredibly exciting to me, and I’m not even American.
My only worry now is the Obama cannot possibly live up to the hype. But for tonight I am hopefully going to be celebrating with my friends and tommorrow morning be falling asleep happy that the Republican Bush years will no longer be a living nightmare but about to be confined to a dusty chapter of history.
In 2003, me and two angry friends went to London to protest at George Bush’s state visit to the UK. With 100,000 others we marched through the capital- the atmosphere was sensational, and the queue of protesters took almost two hours to leave Malet Street. Bush had been in power two years and we didn’t want him wellcomed on our soil. We hadn’t been able to get to the anti war protests, so watching the giant effigy of him being toppled, just like the one of Saddam Hussein had been months earlier, was magical.
Contrast this with last week, as Bush made his farewell stop-off at number ten. The crowd was diminished to two thousand. I wasn’t there, but the anger still was. Why so few, after he’d had another five years to accumulate crimes? I suppose before it was a protest not just against what he had done, but what he might still go on to do. This time round, he was on the way out- there is little left for him to taint, his work is almost done. A protest against what has already happened, long after the event and without hope of changing it, is a lot less passionate than one about what might be. Guantanamo is still full. Iraq is still a mess. Aid agencies still suffer from the funds he cut them; Americans still go without health care and gay and lesbian couples still face a president who doesn’t want them to have equal rights.
But his presidency has dragged on and on. The shock of the new is gone, the contrast between him and his predecessor fading into memory. And hence, gone is the passion of those people who waved placards and shouted, took days off work, school and college to take to the streets. He is old news, and it’s too late to change anything. People are looking forward now, to his successor. He is old news.
Still, I would have liked to be in the crowd…