Standing at the podium in an arena, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Senator Barack Obama declared to the crowd of fifty thousand that he has clinched the Democratic Nomination for the American Presidential elections 2008, ending the tedious duel with the fellow democratic Senator Hillary Clinton. However, the lady from New York has not conceded her defeat yet. She has said she would be backing Obama.
Winning the last primary in Montana by securing 58 per cent of votes, but losing to Clinton in South Dakota by a margin of 12 per cent, this African American Senator from Illinois has undoubtedly made history. Securing 2151 delegates while he only needed 2118 to obtain the Presidential nomination, Obama became the first black American to attain a Presidential Nomination.
No doubt, this is a great day for the Afro populace. Until fifty years ago, they did not even have the right to vote in ‘Democratic’ America. Today, they are five months away from having ‘one of their own’ in the White House. Their joy is well justified; the biggest minority (11%) of the States have been incessantly denied this honor. While earlier in 1984 and 1988, Rev. Jesse Jackson lost the Democratic primaries, Republican Party always kept this race several feet away from any hopes. It is hilarious to see how the party of Abraham Lincoln, who fought for the freedom of blacks, has surrendered itself to the girth of right wing capitalism.
Like the Catholics of the 1930s in the predominantly Protestant America, Blacks remained on the fringe of the political sphere. It was the ‘New Deal’, the exclamatory policy of radiant F.D.Rosevelt aka FDR, that beckoned them to dream. Finally, it took a phenomenon called Martin Luther King to assimilate them in the political realm. However, they had to snatch their political right from the White man circa 1960.
At the helm of civil rights movement, and with the staunch opposition of Republicans – civil rights acts were passed only after the hysteric stanchion of Democratic Party. Since then, the party has always relished the colossal African American vote bank. Now Obama symbolizes the hope of the community, which has more youth incarcerated then in colleges.
Nevertheless, this is not the only factor making this a historical moment.
Obama’s nomination ascertains that the perpetual ‘distributor’ of democracy to the world, is finally moving towards inclusiveness. But what Obama brought to this nation other than racial integrity, is the instigation of zeal in the American youth towards the morbid politics. Obama became a synonym of ‘change’.
Change, this six-letter word not only defined the mood of the urban America; it impregnated a movement against a frivolous President, a tyrannical government and a stagnant feeling of malaise that crippled the nation. Before he got even the nomination, he became a talk in the streets of once benevolent Beirut, raging Kosovo and defiant West Bank.
Change was visible in his campaign strategy. While the fellow runners maintained the status quo and lobbied for the contribution from corporate America, Obama appealed directly to his supporters for monetary support. Moreover, his trust in the American populace rather than on the jumbo corporations was well reciprocated, as his campaign office was flooded with five dollar checks, putting him way ahead of his arch rival, Clinton.
Change was even seen in the early days of his democratic debates, before the manic days of Caucuses and primaries. The very first one was CNN-Youtube debate on July 23, 2007, where Obama introduced himself to the world. Among the eight Democrats fighting, there was only Obama who stood a chance against Mighty Clinton. He reminder her from time to time that he was among the few who stood against the Iraq war resolution in 2002, while she backed the Bush administration’s bill. Reminding her about the malice of the feeble health care plan and a stringent immigration policy that she endorsed for America, he never ingratiated to petty surrealism of her stature.
The son of a Kenyan immigrant and a white mother, he never entertained the issue of his race. From the initiation of his campaign, he has faced attacked from both black and white conservatives. The former questioning his ‘blackness’; his Kenyan roots and white pedigree, and the later off course, inciting the fear that white race would be ruled by a non-white. From time to time, he was instigated, but instead of being furious, the calm he maintained was remarkable.
The other candidates and previous Presidents have known to have lost their temper. Few know that incumbent George Bush embarrassed the now Republican nominee several times during their duel to attain Republican nomination in 2000. He criticized and questioned McCain’s age and religion.
Even in this primary, liberal media disparaged Hillary Rodham Clinton for her implicit attacks on Obama’s race in one of her television advertisements implying Obama as Muslim, and comparing him to Osama. Then there are her comments about Working Class Americans, that she is the only one who could represent them. Thus, without disturbing her liberal base she launched a clandestine attack on Obama, by stimulating the deep anxiety of the working class towards the Blacks.
Though Obama has achieved what the Journalist plethora of America rubbished until last year, he still carries some baggage with him. Impediments crowd him in all forms. Apart from his base African American voters, he has support from only white professionals. The working class American scourges him, so do the older Asian Americans, who would blindly put their faith in no one but a White Democratic. This was seen in all the states where he was beaten by Madame Clinton; New York-New Jersey (immigrants), Philadelphia-Ohio (working class Whites), California (Asian Americans).
Apart from electoral imbalances, he also has to deal with Wright controversy. His former Pastor Rev Jeffery Wright erupted just after Ohio primary, on all major and minor national networks. His ‘God damn America’ sermon was played for entire two days, and only stopped after Obama publicly distanced himself from Wright, and denounced his preachings.
Irrespective of which democrat wins, the next few years would be scintillating for America and for the world. Of course, if the Democrats make a mess of things and stay divided (they have done it before), a Republican and that too Jon McCain would reside in DC, and the interesting days of Bush would be replaced by that of a seventy-year-old man with twelve hundred pages of medical records, who wants to stay in Iraq for few more years and allow corporate America to continue teaching democracy to Iraqis while they, much like credit card industry, deregulate the health insurance industry.
There have been instances carved in the modern American history, where the country redeemed itself after a great deal of turmoil and evinced towards a better nation. And in each of these instances, there always has been a democratic President preceded by a Republican one, who proffered his hand to the fallen nation.
In the fifties, the nation was horrified by a witch-hunt called McCarthyism (the drive against communism) left scars that are still healing. With Republicans like Eisenhower and Nixon in White House, America established itself as the Tyrant in both inlands and outlands. In their drive to stop the ‘evils’ of communism, they willfully violated humanity, and squandered the iconic image America attained during FDR reign. The America that recuperated for a while under a short tenure of John F Kennedy fell into somnolence during Nixon’s autocratic five-year control of the States. Whatever personal life JFK might lived, he never once allowed it to encumber his public service. Setting a standard for coming politicians, he inspired a generation that was getting lost in the Cold era. Nixon abided by morality (which JFK didn’t). However, it did not shine in his political life. Nixon represented a symbol of oppression that cultivated the next generation of Republican Presidents. Latest version is off course, Bush Jr. His buffoonery could be ignored, so could his nonsensical behavior but the policy that his administration ran for past seven has left too severe mark to discount. The insurgency in Iraq is taking hundred lives a month on average. Appeasement of China and other dictating states, ignoring domestic trouble – mishandling of situation after hurricane Katrina, the mortgage crisis, health insurance fiasco, rising prices – and criticizing policies of other states, are just facades of the real trouble that this administration have got America in.
If Obama proves to be as good a President as he is an orator, then America would be fortunate. In his victory speech on June 4, he revealed his plans of bringing American troops home, and delegating the administration to Iraqis. Warning the giant corporations of possible tax increase, he relieved the common American by projecting a scheme of mandatory health insurance for everyone. He talked about energy crisis, his plans to work with the EU and Asia in cutting down carbon emissions. Contrast to the Al Gore presidential run, this time America is listening, because they have started to experience the brunt decades of brutalities levied on environment.
Our folks in Raisina Hills, back home are certainly paying attention. With the Nuke deal canned, their ears that until yesterday were exclusively for Clinton – have now opened up to Obama. Albeit the fact that Obama has now revealed his cards regarding Indo-US nuclear deal; he is known for anti-nuke stand. There is also apprehensiveness prevalent in software industry. Outsourcing is listed in his evil list; in last night’s speech, he made a point to press his pro American worker stand. Sources claim that, Indian consortium of BPO industry; NASSCOM is not losing its sleep. Well, not yet.
Nevertheless, it is frivolous to presage what Obama would do or not do. He still has to convince more than half of America to put their trust on him, on the Election Day, November 4. Republicans know and have expertise in rigging elections, but even if they prevail in that this time as well, they could not relinquish the dynamics that Obama has furnished during last seventeen months and fifty-four primaries. They could not crush the spirit of that kid from a ghetto in Harlem, or a family recouping in New Orleans, or the élan of thousands of young Americans who exercised their right for the first time. In past eight months, change has grasped America. And the man who has brought it to them, is a son of a Kenyan immigrant, is a graduate of Harvard law school and his name is Barack Hussein Obama, the Democratic Party candidate and prospective President of United States of America.