Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama: The American Dream

by Etse Sikanku

The good news about the upcoming presidential primaries is that they could present Americans with a chance to elect its first black President. Nearly 250 years after its establishment, Americans are still searching for their first non-white president. Barack Obama is the slick “political rock star,” challenging old norms and seeking to rewrite this country’s history.

Not surprisingly, the political system has mapped out a formula which has seen people from a certain class and race ascend to the White House. But with a woman, a black man, a Latino and a Mormon all front-runners for the presidency, 2008 could be a year of alterations for America.
It’s true that Barack Obama has little experience in Washington as a senator. It’s also true that some of his policies are particularly idealistic. Obama has been running a campaign admired for its style, vigor and inspiration, but is lacking in depth.
Shockingly enough Obama hasn’t earned the full endorsement of the black community and is not trusted by some core members of the democratic community. Others view Obama as too na├»ve and sincere for his own good, but his personal charm and electabilty credentials — buoyed by his community service, academic and professional background — are just about as appealing (if not more appealing) to a wide cross-section of Americans.

Obama has raised more money than democratic opponent Hilary Clinton, drawing in more than $34 million in the second quarter of 2007, outdoing Clinton’s $27 million. The freshman senator from Illinois seems to be Wall Street’s political sweetheart who has raked in $739,579 from top-investment banks, compared to Clinton's $424,545. Obama is reported to have almost twice as many donors as Clinton.

Consequently, this is a confirmation of America’s belief in Obama’s message. Clinton’s hopes of establishing early dominance in the democratic contest were quickly wiped by Obama’s stellar performance. More revealing about Obama’s donations are that most of them are small-dollar contributions from ordinary Americans who are dying for a change from politicians with corporate interests. Supporters are showing this quest by supporting a candidate they can identify with; that candidate is Obama.

Even more decisive than his ability to match Clinton in the contest to raise money, has been his ability to rival any of the leading democratic contenders in terms of ideas, personality and policy. This is the proof that Senator Obama is a good candidate, since no amount of money (no matter how large) can buy pristine knowledge, workable plans and the cordiality that attracts crowds to campaigns.

What is interesting about the primary race is that it has revealed the nuances of the electoral process in America. America is capitalism in action, but also a democracy on course. These are difficult times in the life of the American polity. To be sure the U.S. is a political institution which has some good intent. If we set aside its unilateral character, this country presents mankind’s best opportunity for self actualization.

Strategic interests have caused the U.S. to ignore the most pressing global issues. One clear example of this is the 1994 Rwandan genocide, during which the U.S., determined to pursue its plans in the Balkans, forced the United Nations not to send troops to Rwanda or even highlight the crisis. This was especially dreadful considering the fact that the ongoing war in Bosnia was in no way comparable to the “cleansing” of over 800,000 people during a hundred days in Rwanda.
The U.S. was swift to send NATO to bomb Serbia but slow to move in Rwanda. It is such acts of indiscretion that so often projects America as the enemy to pursue, thereby making it an unwarranted target for terrorists. Many consider terrorism the greatest thereat to America’s existence and America needs an amiable president who will erase such hateful global sentiments by presenting the U.S. as a worthy nation steeped in consensus building and ready to extend the spirit of camaraderie worldwide.

Obama is the candidate who is preaching neither the liberal nor the conservative message. He is propagating the neo-America crusade, the idyllic enterprise the U.S. was predicted to be.

The ambition originally pined for by the founding fathers — to make America the land of freedom, a symbol of international success and a model for the rest of the world to emulate — is inherently submerged in Obama’s persona which makes him the best person to lead the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election.
One of the best ways for the United States to ensure peace in the world is to guarantee peace at home. Obama’s charisma, depth of political experience, global appeal and progressive policies will get that and much more for America. Obama is the American dream.
Change is waiting to happen in America. The question is: will Americans accept it?

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