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Fourth Obama Article

November 14, 2008 at 5:55 pm / by

Here’s my fourth article about my Obama journey which should have been published in the Ham&High yesterday. I’ll be back in London tonight so I’ll scan all the articles which have been published in my absence.

I decided to focus this article on the general feel in the US because Obamamania has taken over this country by storm!

Is there a vaccination for the extremely contagious Obama fever gripping the US? The fever is reaching epidemic proportions- it’s almost as bad as the Spice Girls ‘girl-power’ period in 1996. At the victory party in Columbus Obama Fever affected the people so badly that some left looking rather green!

The next day I travelled to Washington DC to visit family. I wore my Obama canvasser t-shirt and for the first time, after years of practice as a middle child, my attention seeking tactics worked. On the plane, two Somalis pounced on me and interrogated me about Obama’s stance on immigration. I explained Barack’s ‘bringing people out of the shadows’ policy which will allow undocumented immigrants to pay a fine, learn English and try for citizenship, provided they are in good standing. They told me that this would help their communities in Minnesota and as I left the latest patients of Obama fever, I realised that the over-talked but important point about Obama’s win is that it was rooted in a new coalition of voters: young, disillusioned and the previously disinterested.

As I landed in Dulles airport, a good-looking man smiled at me. I smiled back charmingly only to realise that it was Barack he was interested in, not me. He asked about my experience and I explained how I had worked on the ‘Get Out The Vote’ campaign where we had been assigned a certain area referred to as ‘our universe’ and it was within this universe that I knocked on doors and spoke to constituents about Barack’s economic and health policies. After 8 hours of campaigning, we would go back to our base and enter the data so that we had updated canvass sheets for the next morning.

I told him how I got up at 4am on Election Day and hung door hangers at every house reminding people that this was the last day to vote. This was particularly important as sneaky McCain supporters had been hanging misleading door signs in poorer neighbourhoods telling residents that the election had been postponed and they still had time to vote a week later! I asked single mothers if they required babysitting services while they went out to vote and made sure disabled constituents had a lift to polling stations. I also told my new friend how our team had been chased off a McCain-friendly estate by a man in an electric wheelchair! (He laughed heartily but didn’t ask for my number sadly)

The next day, I took my little cousin to Toys ‘r’ Us in Washington and in the queue I overheard two Hispanic women talking. I listened in by justifying to myself that I needed to brush up my Spanish. ¡Qué sorpresa! – they were having a chinwag about the Obamas. Apparently Barack made time to celebrate his anniversary with Michelle on 3rd October even though the campaign schedule was hectic. And did you know that Barack attends all of Malia and Sasha’s ballet recitals because Michelle asked him to? True love indeed!

The following morning I drove to New York with friends to attend a seminar on restoring democracy in Bangladesh. It was four hours of concentrated Obama fever. We discussed the article in the ‘The Economist’ which believes that actually the win was not so convincing and that it was similar in scale and raw electoral college votes as Clinton’s first win. I think this analysis misses the obvious point that Obama has changed the tone of politics for now. He carried the country on a message of hope that probably hasn’t happened since JFK. A Labour Party colleague in Chicago described the feeling as ‘like 1997 but times ten stronger’. I think this hope is sorely missing at the moment and may have an astounding effect at taking the edge off the predicted global recession.

We discussed the appointment of Rahm Emanuel to chief of staff which is interesting. An ex-senior Clinton advisor who has previously tried to legislate for a universal healthcare system could help Obama change the face of US politics temporarily. It looks like government support is back in fashion and the Democrats can ride this wave and implement national and global policies, the likes of which have not been seen since post-world War Presidents like Truman. We also discussed the demographics of the Supreme Court and how at least a few members will retire from the bench which will have repercussions for abortion and gun rights. As we reached our destination, the conversation turned to the world’s fear of Obama’s protectionist policies.

The seminar was the perfect ending to my feverish journey as Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke of the 11th Congressional district in Brooklyn turned up. We discussed the political situation in Bangladesh and she quoted Barack’s words about Americans ‘turning the page’ and said that Bengalis needed to do the same by electing a democratic government on 18 December.

As I looked around the room, it dawned on me that Obama has finally made America colour-blind. I started thinking about whether the UK is ready for an ethnic minority Prime Minister. We can go one better by choosing a woman! I might just know a candidate for the job…

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3 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    Wow – sounds like your trip was insanely busy!

  2. Maisha says:

    Interesting! Seems like you had a lot of fun campaigning!! Although, I am least interested in elections, really enjoyed reading your articles and how even in your extremely busy schedule, you had time to pay attention to wall signs and scrutinize drawings of Obama…keep posting more of ’em. Your blog is my new means of procrastination…!!

  3. Tulip says:

    Thanks Dan and Maisha. Yes it was really busy but a lot of fun too.

    Look out for the fifth article …coming soon!