The winds of change are sweeping across America, at least according to Barrack Obama. The fast emerging top contender for the Democratic Party nomination for the President is touted as the one of the most likely candidate to replace the much criticized and widely ‘hated’ George W. Bush. The fact that Obama has stolen the show from Ms. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, backed by a formidable and experienced team, itself shows the extent to which he has traveled. Whoever wins the nomination, it will be a ‘first’ in both cases; Obama, is the first black and Hillary, is the first woman Presidential nominee.
However, in this battle of race v/s gender, the main issues seem to have taken a backseat. As the whole world follows each and every move of the two, most have forgotten to ask what this means for the US.
A country that has, for many years, been the ‘Big Brother’ to the world and has called itself a ‘harbinger of democracy and change’ is now itself in the midst of a change.The irony of Obama’s ‘change’ compared to Clinton’s ‘experience’ campaign is that for the first time in recent American Presidential nomination race history, policies and money have taken a backseat and emotive issues , personal charisma and mind games are being used to gain votes. This race is not just a race for a nomination; many see this as a reflection of the path where the liberal American society is moving. Even though, Obama’s middle name Hussein is not widely known, sociologists see this as a unifying factor for a wounded and scarred America post-9/11 and eight years of Bush. Hillary, on the other hand is symbolic of the new- American woman. She has handled the entire stressful election campaign very well; her reluctance to publicly show her emotions and an image of ‘ice-cold calculating’ woman has been praised by many, but this has also been seen as an image trap for her. On one hand, many critics have praised her for not using her femininity and sexual charm as a tool in the elections, her total non display of the ‘softer-feminine’ side has lead to sometimes voter disenchantments.
This race is also significant as for the first time the world has focused so much attention on a party election; as most believe that the Democratic nominee will have the advantage going into the presidential race. As the Democrats fight amongst themselves to find the most suitable candidate, the Republicans have almost made their choice, Senator John McCain. A former war-hero, McCain is widely seen as more liberal in the mostly conservative and religious Republican Party. This clearly shows the American desire for a more liberal and inclusive Government, after the deeply divisive years under Bush. Even though, Obama had opposed the Iraq war right from the beginning, Hillary along with other leading Democrats had initially supported it, but then strongly opposed it on grounds of mismanagement of the Bush administration and strong anti-war stance of the US public. On many issues, such as the taxation policy, health schemes and family welfare, there is not much to choose between the two; so other factors play their part. Obama has played upon his race and mixed origins as well as the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton switch in American Presidency. He has called for ‘change’, as radical measure to clean up the system and introduce sweeping reforms to pull up the administration.
Hillary, on the other hand has played the ‘experience’ card and has consistently refused to go into personal attacks. She has played upon the woman card as well, which got boosted after her famous ‘break-down’ before the New Hampshire Primary, which many people believe helped her win the contest. She has received a chunk of the support from other ethnic groups such as Indians and Hispanics, as well as a huge section of the white women who constitute a majority of her voters. She has made it a point to tell her voters that ‘it takes a Clinton to clean up the mess of a Bush’, a line that has received widespread criticism from many circles.
As of now, the American public is going crazy over this race. Every newspaper and television channel is covering it in a big way, and many say that this is a bigger race than the race for the President. Every aspect of the two has come under scrutiny, from Obama’s suits to Hillary’s perfect hair. As the race reaches its final rounds, both are almost neck to neck in the delegate count and come Tuesday, the fight for the big ticket will spread to three more states. Even though early polls suggest wins for Obama, Hillary isn’t taking it easy. She hopes to make the big comeback on March 4th, when the big states of Ohio and Texas go to the polls. So intense is the fight that most believe that the battle will last for weeks, if not months before the Democratic National Convention in August. Till then, the world will join the American Democrats in a ‘Hilobama’ frenzy.
[image by azrainman]