The Obama Juggernaut

obama_1.jpgThe customary telephonic conversations with my stay-at-home aunt in Chennai do not engross political issues, though we discuss all kind of worldly matters. A mother of twin little girls, she pursues a hectic schedule, as schools in India tend to be more demanding for beginners with tremendous workload. However, last week the telephone rang for something unusual. My aunt on the other side sounded frantic. The next I heard was, “Do you think Senator Obama would be the next occupant of the White House?” Never did Rev (as I call her), as I know, followed the US presidential election that diligently. So yes, her newfound excitement stunned me. Even during our last family vacation in December, she did not express her curiosity in the US presidential election. I realized that Rev too was caught in the new wave, the new phenomena of Obama-mania. What is more interesting to note was that, it is not just my aunt, but also my grandparents and my great granny have become delighted victims of this phenomena of hope and change. Do please remember that this is about a family at the southern most tip of the Indian subcontinent!

Everyone in my family had read my article on women presidential candidates focusing on Ms. Hillary Clinton and President Kirchner of Argentina. Therefore, my take on the Obama-mania was inevitable. I had concluded that paper with the hope that the next American president would be a woman- an agent of ‘change’. I must confess that I was as confident as Ms. Clinton, if not over-confident, in believing that the next US president indubitably would be a woman. Little did I know then, that it was a young Senator from Illinois who would exhort the nation to hope and to trust in change? A passionate orator, Obama not only inspires America but the people of the world. Today a vast majority of Americans, even those who constitute the traditional vote bank, reckon him as a transformational force that could change the face of American political system cutting across socio-economic and cultural barriers.

What pulls the crowd towards Obama and has endangered the chances of Ms. Clinton, who was apparently the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential candidature when the race began last year, needs to be detailed on. Well, I now doubt if Hillary ever had the following she thought she had in the first place. She contemplated that her time-tested experience in American politics stood a better chance to woo the Americans than Obama’s call for change that one could believe in. To everyone’s astonishment, majority of America chose the latter. The political analysts did not take into consideration, at the nascent stage of this election, that the United States is desperate for such a sea change. Barack Obama has both the intelligence and the popular appeal that America saw in John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. People take off from work to hear Obama with whom they relate personally. Young men and women brave the frosty climate to answer Obama’s call for change. He is a commoner for most, who risked a high-paying job to be among the masses. He is in the race today because he learnt from the life of Mahatma Gandhi that an ordinary man could do anything extraordinary, provided he has the will for it. The wind of change has already started blowing in the United States with the historic primary turnouts, especially with the ever-rising participation of youth. Along with his rhetoric, Obama’s credentials include his strapping resentment to the war in Iraq all through. He motivates the young minds with his use of advanced technology, the Podcasts and the like. At the same time, his health care policy for ‘all’ attracts the old, the immigrants and the disadvantaged groups. This presidential election in the United States is probable to create a history, either with a woman or an African American at the helm. While Hillary identifies this historical moment with gender politics in her campaign trails, Obama refuses to use the same weapon. For Obama, it does not matter if it is a woman or a man who makes it ultimately; it does not matter to him if it is a white or black victory. What matters to Obama are hope and change and that too for the United States of America as a whole. No wonder, this energetic campaign by Obama has caught Hillary unawares. For who dares to counter the very symbol of change not just in the US but around the whole world when it desperately needs one?

Annapoorna Karthika

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