Welcome Back America — November 4th Celebration

Oct 29 Update: 557 people signed up to come out on November 4th via Facebook. Likely most are from Toronto — if you’re on board with the idea, help it go viral by telling your people in other cities.

If the event below appeals to you, go to the Facebook event page and join, and then invite all your people to join — especially if they’re in a different city. This is not an “organized” event — but we’ve been overhearing people asking “where will you be election night” so why not encourage a giant civic celebration?

If the rest of the planet could vote, Barack Obama would win the American 2008 election in an unprecedented landslide. It’s safe to say that much of the world is waiting anxiously for the Obama victory — think of the 200,000 people that saw Obama speak in Berlin last July.

The United States has lost moral support and sympathy around the world over the last eight years. The Obama win is a chance for a new start and to patch up both its reputation and its international relationships. We need to send a big fun signal of good faith that we’re ready to have them back. Let’s do that by gathering together in our public squares to celebrate this new era and show our American friends they are not alone in the world.

Here’s how it will work: When CNN declares victory (since it’s the news organization most internationally available) head to your city or town’s main square where public celebrations usually take place. If it’s a square with a big video screen maybe they’ll broadcast results so you can go early, or watch the victory speech after. Like when your sports team wins, it’s better to celebrate in public with everybody else.

In Toronto, head to Dundas Square. It’s got the space, those big TVs, and after every hockey championship, it is naturally filled with people.

Though planning this before results are in risks a “Dewey Defeats Truman” scenario (let’s all knock wood) it’s worth the risk. We may not agree with everything the United States does or even with all of Obama’s platform, but let’s put all that aside and, for once, celebrate America’s new start. Welcome back America!

Invite other to join and share this group. Start threads on your local blogs or forums.

Download and use this graphic:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacing/2964300895/

52 comments

  1. I suspect a lot of people will be quite dissapointed when Obama in fact, isn’t able to walk on water or heal the sick.

  2. While Obama will never be able to meet the expectations set for him, his election will at least bring about a lot of international goodwill and dramatically alter the perception of what a politician and government can mean to its people. A lot of republicans will be angry but they will at least get a more compassionate and effective government under Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress than the sham that’s been pulled on Americans for 8 years.

  3. I’m not celebrating yet. I too have high hopes for Obama, but whether or not America is ‘back’ remains to be seen. Will Obama get out of Iraq? What will he do about Afghanistan? Pakistan? Guantanamo? and the war on terra? Have they learned that Neo-Con economics don’t work? That you can’t continually spend more than you have? Will they continue to act as if nothing is their fault and they’ve been wronged by the rest of the world?

    Obama is a hopeful sign, but his election will not be, in and of itself, change – only the hope that there might be change. Besides, Canada has just danced a few steps to the Neo-Con side of crazy. Who are we to welcome them back when we appear content to go to where they were?

  4. Justin: canada did not just go neo-Con: 62% voted centre left. That’s a landslide victory if we had proportional representation. As Canadians, especially those who voted for Libs, Greens, and NDP (72% in Toronto) we have lots of reasons to celebrate an Obama victory.

  5. Sonia, I agree in principle, but we don’t have proportional representation and Harper is still the P.M. – Hopefully we can fix that, but we haven’t yet.

  6. Sonia: Is the Green party really even left wing? They’re pretty pro-market/low tax.

  7. luke, you are of course free to start the McCain celebration on your own. We won’t endorse it, but you may post a link to it here.

  8. The Greens are centrist, for the most part as most eveyone who voted for them seemed to be former Libs and NDPers and a handful of leftover PCers.

    Like I said, 62% voted centre-left.

  9. I agree with Justin to a) not count your chickens, and b) remember that while an Obama win would mark great progress, there is an incredible amount of The Way Things Work to fight through (I remember well how hopeful we were when Bill Clinton won, and a small amount was achieved only for so long).

    It should come as no surprise that both Justin and I are American-Canadians.

    Regardless, this would be one of the better reasons out there to throw a party. It’s a lovely thought.

  10. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but was there any kind of mass gatherings planned & disseminated here on the Wire for the end of the Canadian election? Just sayin’.

  11. MK: why would there be? There was no international ramifications for the election: the US presidential race does.

    Also note that the event is planned as a global one, not just in Toronto.

  12. i disagree that there were no international ramifications from the canadian election. sure, we don’t have as high a profile as the US. our elections are not the huge media/cultural/economic events that american ones are, but that’s probably a good thing. more importantly, our election little cause for celebration (like shawn says) at home or abroad.

  13. There are 3 concerns with an Obama win…..

    1) The KKK will want to get him, and put a white guy back in the white house. America still has too many red necks, in large areas of the country.

    2) Like most countries day to day operation of the American government is done by career civil servants. The name on the letter head may change, but nothing else does.

    3) It also depends on the house, a Democrat president with a Republican house is even less useful then a minority government is here……

  14. Sonia:

    It’s actually less than 37% since only 59.1% of the eligible Canadians actually bothered to vote. 🙁

    62/100 X 59.1 = 36.642

  15. Sonia: Simply, I think your statement is incorrect. An election in a G8 member country certainly has int’l “ramifications”.

    The Department of Culture (http://departmentofculture.ca/) had an election celebration. While the election didn’t go the way I think that they’d hoped, going through an event like that is always better together.

    Guess I thought that part of the Spacing ethos is that things that happen here are significant, too, and so I’m mildly surprised, that’s all.

  16. I wonder if this event has been featured on Fox News yet to fire up the right-wing base. Canadians seem to crave international endorsements like this; Americans cringe and tend to get suspicious of anything the rest of the world thinks is good for them.

  17. my point is that while our election might not be cause for celebration in other countries (for partisan reasons or practical ones), it DOES have international ramifications (e.g. our policy on climate change, among many other things). i don’t see how that is contradictory at all.

  18. After our disproportionate disaster of an election, with all the attendant cynicism from pretty well all of the parties (Tories, definitely; Libs, occasionally; Dippers unfortunately; Greens, less so), we need this. Sure, Obama can’t be everything we hope for, but he can be so so much more than what our poor cousins down south have lived with for eight years, and what we’re going to be living with for the foreseeable future (FIGHT FOR PR!). Party like it’s 2008!

  19. MK> Nothing about this event says things that happen here in Canada are not significant.

    It has little/nothing to do with Dep’t of Culture events, or internal celebrations in either country — this is an outside-the-country-going-through-the-election event. Your Dep’t of Culture example is more like, wrt the US election, an internal celebration moveon.org might throw.

    A “Welcome Back America” event can only be done from the outside.

    And as a proud Canadian who is way deep into local veneration, I’d still submit that an election called by a 2-year old minority conservative government where the results ended up being about the same and the (generational, political) shifts that the United States is likely to go through on Nov 4 are, well, different.

  20. The center-left should stop beating the dead horse of proportional representation. It has been rejected (sometimes resoundingly) in the three jurisdictions where it has been put to a ballot question, and Stephen Harper would probably still be the PM under almost any mixed scheme other than pure PR.

    Instead, the center-left should take a page out of the Conservative book and unify under a single banner. Look where it got them.

  21. Ontarians didn’t reject PR, they didn’t know about it. There was almost no public education done on the proposed new system and it’s no great surprise that voters rejected a voting system they didn’t understand. It was, in short, sabotaged by politicians who pretended that they pro-democracy but ultimately didn’t like what it implied for them.

    As for the center-left I think the solution may be a combination of things. I think the Greens and Libs should probably merge, they are not terribly different in their platforms. I also think that we need proportional representation.

    I’ve also been talking to people about an Unparty – which would be a ‘party’ with a platform but no candidates. It would throw it’s support behind people who were in line with the platform (and likely to win – one lesson that needs to be learned on the center-left is that winning elections is important, even if you don’t get EVERYTHING you want you get more than you do if you lose the election.)

  22. Yeesh, talk about Tempting the Wrath of the Whatever From High Atop the Thing!!

    I just got back from a conference and talked to more than one American liberal (including one who was at Obama’s acceptance speech) and they are taking NOTHING for granted. They have still escapes planned to Canada in case things go pear shaped.

  23. Hey Justin. The PR horse ain’t dead. It’s barely been born yet. First Past the Post is a dying horse. He’s just dying really, really slowly (mainly because of stubborn people who talk about uniting parties that have very little in common).

    One of the jurisdictions you mentioned was BC, where they actually voted 58% in favour of a proportional system. If you want to call that “defeated”, you go right ahead. But you sound awfully funny.

    BC is voting again next spring http://www.stv.ca/ Why? Because people were so outraged that a “majority” government can be elected with 40% in this country, while electoral reform can be “defeated” with 58%.

    Dead horse? You’re on another planet my friend.

  24. Dave … I think your comment was directed at me, not Justin. I don’t want to do a whole thread-hijack thing here, but …

    I’m not saying PR is a bad idea, and BC might get it in the re-run. But Ontario and PEI rejected PR by margins close to 2/3.

    If electing a center-left government is your objective (which is the context of my post), what’s the low-hanging fruit here? If 62% of Canadians voted for center-left parties, it seems like the way easier option would be to convince them to vote more strategically — for example, via formal or informal coalitions among those parties, especially since that option has already been demonstrated to work (by the Conservatives). Pushing for PR seems way harder and way riskier, given the history of defeats, as well as the poor optics of re-running referendums until you get the answer you want.

    On the other hand, if (as you say) these parties have “little in common”, then going for PR wouldn’t really change much, would it? The center-left still would not find any way to cooperate even with slightly larger seat totals, and the Conservatives would probably still be in government today.

  25. Having parties to cooperate to reduce voter’s choices doesn’t seem to be a step forward for democracy. PR gives voter’s more choice rather then less.

  26. So “we’re ready to have them back,” eh? Aren’t we swell! Nice one Shawn – most condescending post of the week.

  27. GDH — I see news reports and commentators everywhere saying the next president will have to reintroduce the USA to the world (regardless of Obama or McCain) — I don’t see this as condescension but rather a sign of being open to that reintroduction. You can stay home and watch Canadian Idol that night if you want.

  28. Celebrating the election of a candidate who secured the nomination of his party by caucus fraud, voter intimidation, and the threatening and coercion of the delegates to his party’s national convention is grossly inappropriate. There will be nothing to celebrate if Obama is elected, or McCain for that matter. Thank you for joining the worldwide ranks of the grossly misinformed. Give yourselves a round of applause.

  29. Are you guys nuts or something? If Obama is elected NAFTA will not favor Canada. You will lose anything your country got in the deal. Obama wants to dissolve NAFTA…which will hurt Canada and Mexico. Don’t be fooled by the empty suit. He has no history and if all goes well he will have no future!

  30. Good day friends!

    I was in the shower this morning, as I often am in the morning, staring at a stubborn spot of soap scum that I can’t get rid of and I was struck with the realization that there’s 8 days until what will arguably be the most significant election of our lifetimes – perhaps in the history of democracy.

    Barack Hussein Obama Jr. is about to become president of the United States. He’ll be the first person “of colour” to head a major industrialized nation. The Democrats will achieve a rare trifecta – control of the White House, The Senate and The House of Representatives. The Republicans will reap the rewards of all the they’ve carelessly sewn in the past 8 years as they cool their heels on the sidelines of American politics.

    It is a critical election for the American people and to no lesser extent, the rest of the world – and the rest of the world is waiting with baited breath in hopes that the electorate doesn’t mess up this unique opportunity to redeem themselves. We’re hoping – praying – that they seize this chance to correct the national embarrassments that were the 2000 and 2004 elections.

    A Gallup poll of 70 countries conducted from May through September found historic international support for the a Democratic win. Around the world, respondents favoured Obama at a ratio of 4 to 1 over John McCain.

    In Canada, 67 per cent of those surveyed chose Obama while 22 per cent were pulling for McCain.
    And incredibly, 75 per cent of Canadian respondents said the presidential election would make a difference for their own country.

    But it’s largely out of our hands, right? All we can do is hope for the best.

    That’s how I feel, anyhow. I find myself often wishing I was American for just one day – just for the opportunity to put an ‘X’ beside Barack’s name. Or that they’d open up the vote to the rest of the world. Let us pick the “leader of the free world” – we are part of the free world, aren’t we??

    The gravity of the present situation seems clear to people from every corner of the globe. Armed conflict, threats of nuclear proliferation, emboldened “rogue” states, environmental pulverization, crumbling financial markets – it seems pretty dire. I think the world sensed that American policy makers were well out of touch in 2004 and we watched with cautious optimism that US voters would let the world and Washington know that they felt the same way by booting the responsible party from the Whitehouse.

    But they didn’t.

    It’s difficult to accurately estimate the damage that the ’04 re-election of the George Bush Republicans did to the image of the United States. On a very micro level, Americans see it when they travel abroad in the way they are treated by the international community. It can be as simple as a snide remark or as serious as physical assault and damage to property. On a macro level, it’s alienated even close ally nations and given support to the cause for groups who look to impede the progress of the western world. There’s a lot less sympathy around the globe for the misfortunes of the American people. It had almost taken on an air of gloating – many feel that the US has gotten what it deserves.

    The problem with this attitude is that it’s terribly atavistic. The idea that the misfortunes of the United States are theirs alone has been repeatedly disproved – likely not more acutely than in the immediate global resonance of the American financial implosion. What happens to them happens to us – it happens to the world.

    And now we find ourselves on the precipice of another opportunity for the American voter to say to his government, his countrymen and to the rest of the world that they feel our pain. That they’ve suffered with us. That they share the same sense of disappointment, dismay and distrust that the rest of us do and that they’re ready for a change.

    But what if they haven’t really heard the chorus of voices from around the world? What if misinformation and fear-mongering and rhetoric-trumpeting about domestic hardship and higher taxes and must-win-wars scares voters into giving the Whitehouse back to Republicans?

    It could happen again. But it behoves us to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t.

    So my question is this – how do we talk to the American people? How do we get our voices heard? How do we cast OUR ballots?

    My early-morning-soap-scum-spotting-in-shower-logic said that with 9 days to go, we get the best communicators we know in the same room and we devise a plan. We build a website, we get a sponsor or two and we hammer every media outlet from here to Kabul. We talk to like-minded folks operating on a smaller scale and we get their support. We do interviews on CNN and FOX and Al Jazeera, we jump up and down, we wave big American flags and we throw election night viewing parties in every free country on the planet. We let them know we’re here – and that we know they can do this – and that as brothers and sisters sharing citizenship of Nation Earth, we’re behind them.

    With 9 days to go, can we build the world’s most trafficked website?

    I think we can.

    It might sound absurd but these are times of absurdity. We prove every day that the impossible never is and I can’t imagine a more worthy cause than the one before us. We all stand to gain.

    The Plan

    – We build a website – ourballot.com – or something to that effect. The site will be a giant “well-wishes” card where people around the world can post their words of encouragement. We’ll make our pitch – and show our support. This is not a discussion forum – it is a pro-American – pro-earth effort to say that we’re in this together – that we know they can do this. That we need them to do this. And we do this in 24 hours.

    – We write press releases and HAMMER the media. We do this in 48.

    – We make sure every American knows about us. Thank you CNN and New York Times.

    – We get a sponsor or two (it will, after all, be the most trafficked website in the world for the next 4 weeks)

    – We get supporters in every corner of the world to get their civic spaces organized for big viewing parties and post-election celebrations. Every party shoots video and sends it to us, edited and ready for posting on our site in the coming weeks (max 5 min).

    – We give the proceeds to charity.

    The Action

    Let me know what you think. First meeting will be this evening. 9pm at the Village Idiot at Dundas and McCaul.

    If you want to crap on this idea, I welcome it – but please send that type of feedback to me privately – as opposed to hammering me here. This is all about positivism and little miracles, so I’d prefer not to sour the effort with my own public flogging.

    What I need

    PR pros, designers, web masters, donors, planners, artists, musicians, impassioned citizens and divine intervention.

    If you can help with any of the above – PLEASE get in touch.

    That’s it. Let me have it.

    And to the naysayers??

    Yes we can.

    Michael
    416 433 3200

    Here’s the group to facilitate discussion and get this thing moving.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/create.php?success=1&customize=&gid=41683804679#/group.php?gid=41683804679

  31. I suppose it’s pointless to observe that there are still some of us who preferred the Web when it was 1.0, and refuse to sign up for Facebook?

  32. I’d like to point out that in the last Canadian election 62% voted centre and left, not centre left. The Liberals are hardly a left wing party. With Ignatieff or Rae as the next leader, you can be sure that the Liberal’s centre of gravity will be moving rightward. In the last election 64% of voters voted centre and right.

  33. “I’d like to point out that in the last Canadian election 62% voted centre and left, not centre left. The Liberals are hardly a left wing party.”

    Well said. In fact the Liberals under Chretien were almost the entire spectrum of politics (including many social conservatives like Tom Wappel) unified by the desire to be in government and have control of the levers of federal spending. Without being in government or any near-term prospect of being in one that coalition is going to be near-impossible to contain.

  34. Ever since the 90’s, the Liberal Party of Canada and the US Democratic Party have nicely filled the ‘red tory’ void left by the neocons. I don’t expect any radical changes to the status quo when a Democrat is elected president. But after careful reflection I found that “two steps forward, one step back” is still one step forward. So yes, I’m ready to welcome “one step forward.”

  35. This is a cool website.

    http://www.iftheworldcouldvote.com

    Put together by a couple of guys from Iceland, this website lets you say who you’d vote for if the world could vote for the US president. Tell your friends – they are trying to beat the number of voters who actually voted in the last US elections.

  36. Celebrate when Obama wins?

    you have got to be kidding. Why should I drop everything and head for Dundas Square to whoop it up to the fact that the best actor won the US presidential election?

    Obama will have to prove that he is a proper leader and not simply some vacuous mouthpiece spewing forth drivel about “daring to dream” and professing about supposed change.

    I’ll celebrate if he puts his money where his mouth is and forms a government that can set policy smartly. Chances are good that if he does try to make changes for the good he won’t be re-elected anyway.

    …humbug…

  37. “Comment by navyvet48 Are you guys nuts or something? If Obama is elected NAFTA will not favor Canada. You will lose anything your country got in the deal. Obama wants to dissolve NAFTA…which will hurt Canada and Mexico. Don’t be fooled by the empty suit. He has no history and if all goes well he will have no future!”

    Uh yeah and remind me what that was again? NAFTA does not favour Canada or Mexico. As far as I can tell, it’s a really clever plan that Corporate America managed to trick/bribe/intimidate our leaders into signing. There’s nothing “free” about “free trade”. I have to pay exorbitant import duties on things I buy from the US, while large companies are given advantages when the want to exploit cheap foreign workers in countries with fewer labour regulations – workers who are not free to work in the countries that those companies are based in! Free trade as we know it is a contradiction in terms – Free as in Free To Screw Over The Little Guy a little bit more. NAFTA always seemed to me to be a totally one-sided deal in favour of the US – but not US consumers. If Obama really is talking about ditching NAFTA, well this news makes me like him all that much more!

  38. We want MCcain out of the way. Let him give way for the young and energetic Africa American like Obama to take over So that The environment should be talking of a Democracy without any contradiction. I suspect a lot of people will be quite disappointed when Obama in fact, isn’t able to walk on water or heal the sick.but the world should see that a Chosen one can be taken from any tribe or race under the sun.

  39. It has never been easy for a black race in America But today Obama has completed the cycle to teach the whole world that the future is in the hands of thier youths.Just as it is knowledge reaching all African Heads of states that the youths should be making thier way in Africa Also.Let them who think that political positions have been given for ever is a complete non political attitude . I can assutre all who will not want to quit from power

  40. I just re-read the original post and it says that “after every hockey championship” Dundas Square is filled with people. We’ve had hockey championships in this city??? Did I miss something? Did the St. Mike’s Majors win a championship?

    The prospect of the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup seems even more remote than Barack Obama’s chances of winning the Presidency were a couple of years ago.

  41. Rob L> I’ve seen Team Canada (of various iterations) hockey wins swarm Yonge St and D-Square.

    Once, that time a few years ago, when the leafs won the first round of playoffs, they swarmed D-Square. It’s all we have.

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