Passing Notes: The “Obama Effect”, Charter Change

After Obama’s speech in Cairo, commentators coined the “Obama Effect” to describe the rebound victory of the March 14 coalition, a pro-Western alliance, in Lebanon. These commentators also anticipate the victory of Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran, but we now know how that turned out.

No surprise then that many began to dispell any Obama effect in the region, though some argue more simplistically than others — primarily that since Mousavi lost, Obama’s style didn’t work. He’s too silent, they say, and to some point I agree. But practically, the Ayatollahs still run the country and it would be difficult to imagine them not rigging the elections to Ahmadinejad.

In many ways, Mousavi has won. And if the current protests are any indication, he continues to win. But that election is not about him — it’s about the Iranians.

Indeed, there is arrogance in attributing a broad current in history to the efforts of one man. Yet what I see is a broader shift in democracies worldwide that could have begun in the United States (or at least most symbolized by the United States) and now continues to turn the tides in elections everywhere. Even the resurgence of the right in Europe is indicative of this.

In the fallout of a global economic downturn and all the social ills and displacement it has caused, more and more polities are after governments that simply work. It seems as if we’re moving towards a post-ideological or pragmatic milieu in politics where “tried and tested” ideas are crumbling away to the demands of the 21st century.

It will be interesting to see how the Ayatollahs recast themselves after these violent elections, or if they’ll be around at all. For sure, there is greater pressure than ever before for governments to truly express the will of the people.

That being said, I can’t wait for 2010.

Speaking of which, here’s all you need to know about Charter Change:

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