Yesterday I discussed with my wife that the (predictable) victory of Obama reminds me a lot of a little piece of history of my own country:
Back in 1982, Felipe González, a young lawyer from the Socialist Party, won the elections in Spain. It was the first government from the left in 50 years in Spain, after the dictatorship of Franco and initial governments from a center party which disappeared quickly.
González (or rather, Felipe, as he has always been known) had done a model campaign, and he received a massive support from voters, who deposited in him huge expectations in order to change deeply the situation in my country, which was extremely compromised at that time. He explained, years later, that the night after winning the elections he felt absolutely overwhelmed by the tremendous responsabilities in face of him. I bet Obama must feel more or less the same by now.
Felipe was the president of Spain from 1982 to 1996. His initial governments made a very significant labour of modernization in the Spanish economy, and provoked strong changes in many aspects of our society, from social security to sanitary assistance, from obsolete industries to international relationships. He achieved, after long efforts, an agreement to join the European Union, which proved to be among the best moves he could have done. And to summarize, he was responsible of an unbelievable transformation in Spain, from a forgotten place to go to beaches (as it was seen in the mid 70s) to a respected country that showed to the world that you can move peacifully from a dictatorship to a modern, full blown democracy, with a voice that was heard out and loud in international institutions.
Back to Obama, his task at this point is nothing short of amazing: The previous, catastrophic governments of GW Bush (may this guy be forgotten quickly) have put the USA in a very dangerous economic position; their prestige in international politics is nowhere to be found at the moment, with a president which signed some of the worst decisions in the modern history of the USA. The conflicts in Irak and Afhganistan are far from being solved. And all this has caused, judging from what I read, a low degree of self-esteem in the country as a whole, which has been outlined by Obama in more than one occasion. This sad legacy also reminds me of the legacy received by Felipe González: Adolfo Suárez, the former president, was busy enough while trying to move from a dictatorship to a democracy, and trying to calm down the extreme right forces in Spain so that there was no involution. He was a stunning president from many points of view, but could not approach the required modernization of the country: that task was completely up to Felipe González. As it is now up to Obama to move on, forget about the disaster of GW Bush, and convinced his own country, and the world, that things can actually change.
I hope he's has successful as Felipe González was. And I also hope he does not end his government with the many scandals of corruption that plagued the last, forgettable governments of Felipe González.