It is in light of the Kantian conception of enthusiasm that Obama’s victory should be viewed not simply as another shift in the eternal parliamentary struggle for a majority, with all its pragmatic calculations and manipulations. It is a sign of something more. This is why a good American friend of mine, a hardened Leftist with no illusions, cried for hours when the news came through of Obama’s victory. Whatever our doubts, fears and compromises, for that instant of enthusiasm, each of us was free and participating in the universal freedom of humanity.
The reason Obama’s victory generated such enthusiasm was not only the fact that, against all odds, it really happened, but that the possibility of such a thing happening was demonstrated. The same goes for all great historical ruptures - recall the fall of the Berlin Wall. Although we all knew about the rotten inefficiency of the communist regimes, we somehow did not “really believe” that they would disintegrate - like Henry Kissinger, we were all too much victims of a cynical pragmatism. This attitude is best encapsulated by the French expression je sais bien, mais quand meme - I know very well that it can happen, but all the same (I cannot really accept that it will happen). This is why although Obama’s victory was clearly predictable, at least for the last two weeks before the election, his actual victory was still experienced as a surprise - in some sense, the unthinkable had happened, something which we really did not believe could happen.
Slavoj Žižek - First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (p. 107 - 108)
Interesting how everybody is experiencing the exact same reaction in reference to the NDP’s rise in the polls. Now to see if that carries through to the election.
The argument to boycott elections on the grounds of their impurity excludes in broad strokes the political relevance of people who don’t already “get it.” This approach threatens to insulate today’s tiny Left from anything outside the small groupings of the already-converted, but it also goes against the radical assumption that people have the capacity to learn and to transform themselves.Canada’s Federal Election 2011: Should Radicals Care?