The triumph is an American triumph but the consequences affect every man, woman and child on the planet. The celebrations will be first and foremost American celebrations, but the gratitude of all of us extends to every American citizen who had the courage to be different. For you in your wisdom and your nerve have set an example that is for us all now to follow. That example comes from America’s determination is to be absolutely true to your history and to the values of your founding fathers. To say, when it emphatically needed to be said, that you really do, “… hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…” And, I hope also to say, in echo of John Kennedy that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans… unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

The victory is a victory over John McCain, but that is almost incidental – for he was not the enemy. This eminently decent man was gracious in defeat and nobody should question his record, his patriotism or his character. Senator Obama had to defeat McCain, of course, but his true victory was over the politics of despair, ignorance and self-interest that has characterised the Bush years and which has so damaged America’s standing in the world. Whether Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the repulsive coterie of neo-conservative conspirators behind them can be brought to justice for their crimes is something that the new President might be tempted to address. But for most of us to see them and their malignant ideas, prejudices and attitudes cast into the wilderness is perhaps enough.

President Obama will, I am sure, not delay long the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the bringing home of America’s military from Iraq. He will not wait long to purge the system politick of those whose loyalties are to the failed and culpable fat cats of American corporations rather than to the nation. But, like his noble political predecessor in South Africa Nelson Mandela, I hope that above all he will simply draw a line under the past and move on in a spirit of reconciliation.  It is a troubled and anxious world where there is disquiet and injustice, fear and starvation and terror and trauma. And there is a huge leadership void because of the damage that Barack Obama’s predecessor in the White house and his malevolent crew have done to America’s standing in the world.

Barack Obama will soon be leader of the most powerful nation on Earth. John Kennedy gave him his lead nearly fifty years ago when he said “To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves… not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Amen to that – and God bless America.  

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