America: A Time to Change

Dec 302008

By Mykhalo Beletskyy

At Bill Clinton’s rally in Toledo, Ohio, a volunteer said her decision to take an active part in this campaign was inspired by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

“When I saw how Ukrainians stand and fight for their vote, it inspires me to do more than just sit and wait until something will change in the U.S.,” she told the crowd at a high school.

I don’t know whether it influenced voters’ decision on Nov. 4, or whether it changed anyone’s mind. But as a Ukrainian, I was very inspired that day.

That remark took me back to the years that passed after the revolution in Ukraine. Yes, the people of Ukraine took a real chance when they incited the Orange Revolution in November 2004. And it was a real challenge.

But those whom we trusted the most have abandoned us. Instead of using their new-found democracy to promote change in the former Soviet republic, the new leaders began feuding. The internal dissent has stopped any progress that was born during that time of inspiration.

I feel a little cautious, remembering that experience and praying that it will never be repeated in the United States. Yes, we’ve stand by our votes – it was great time for Ukraine and most Ukrainians. But as time has passed, disappointment has emerged.

Of course it might be incorrect to draw parallels between Ukraine and the United States, but this time it’s the USA’s turn to learn from our experience. At the rallies leading up to Nov. 4, I thought of possible disappointments over and over. I hope this will never happen and “small-town Americans” will never be disappointed with their choice, as “small-village” Ukrainians still are.

Mr. Obama could mean that the Democratic Party will use its election victory to bring change to a divided America. It could mean that two major branches of power will fill America’s sails with new wind, pulling it out of its financial nightmare. It could be a real challenge for the USA. During Obama’s rally in Cleveland, I would look into peoples’ eyes, filled with pride for their country and unintentionally think of Ukraine again.

‘Yes, we can! Yes, we can’, people cheered. But I hear ‘ Yu-shchen-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!’ the chant raised by Ukrainians for their newly elected leader.

‘God, save America, the nation of proud and open-minded people from repeating our leaders’ mistakes’. And I do hope this never happens. At least because of one thing that is very important: USA leaders always remember to whom they owe their victory.

The writer is senior correspondent for Stolichnye Novosti in Kiev, Ukraine.