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Third Obama Article

November 7, 2008 at 3:41 am / by

Can you tell that I’ve finally got some time on my (tiny) hands to blog properly? I’ll be honest- after campaigning for 14 hours straight, the last thing I felt like doing was sitting in front of my laptop!

Here’s my third article that’s been published in the Ham&High. You can see it online here but if you want the unedited version …read below!

“I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” – Martin Luther King Jr, 3rd April 1968.

Forty years have passed since this masterful orator uttered these impassioned words. If King had exceeded the average life expectancy an American male (75) by just 5 years, he could have conceivably witnessed the victory speech of arguably the most powerful African American orator since him, the President-Elect, Barack Obama.

I find myself wondering whether this is what King had in mind when he spoke of the promised land and does the election of a black president represent the end of America’s post-racial journey?

As I mentioned previously, I had obsessively followed the US Presidential election from London but nothing could have prepared me for the electric energy in the air when I landed in Columbus airport. In the short ride from the airport to my motel, I saw several ‘Obama-Biden’ stakes planted in the backyards of passionate Democrats. I saw babies as young as 3 months old with Obama badges pinned to their bibs and groups of young men with ‘Yes we can’ tattooed on their arms. That’s when I realised that this buzz of exhilaration was just not communicable through the internet, television or newspapers. You had to be here and I was so thankful that I had made the effort to travel across the continent for Barack. It instantly felt like the city was on the brink of a new era, as if the residents were anticipating that this election was going to transform their lives in more ways than one.

Campaigning in Ohio for Obama during the past week has been different from any other campaign that I’ve worked on. This is not because of the obvious reasons – location, economic situation, timing etc. It is because the people who worked with me on this campaign had a vision of change not just for Columbus, or Ohio or America but for the world. This campaign did not simply view the election of Obama as a means to an end. The electing of Obama was seen as the beginning of a new life and a new way of thinking.

On Saturday I attended the Barack Obama rally in Columbus along with 60, 000 people. I was sandwiched between a sophisticated lady carrying the latest Prada handbag and a funky student with dreadlocks who believed it was better to shout out the Pledge of Allegiance rather than recite it. The excitement amongst the supporters increased steadily and then Michelle Obama stepped out. The sophisticated Prada lady turned to me and said ‘I’m getting emotional already’ and to my disbelief, she started sobbing hysterically as Michelle’s husband took center stage. I looked around as the then Democrat nominee spoke and the passion in that crowd was almost beyond description. That’s when it hit me, this was not just a political rally, this was history in the making.

Obama fought the election on a platform for change, which has been given an overwhelming mandate by today’s results, with gains in Congress and the Senate for the Democrats, as well as the Presidency. Obama’s message of hope prevailed over McCain and Palin’s descent into negative campaigning. American voters could not be swayed by tenuous associations with hasbeen terrorists or the suggestion that Obama was a ‘closet Muslim’ in a time when Wall Street was collapsing, people were having their homes repossessed and American soldiers are still giving their lives, calamities that most voters associate with the incumbent Republicans.

So what can we expect from Obama’s presidency? Majorities in the Congress and Senate as well as his presidential veto powers put Obama in a powerful position. But how will he use it? Domestically, we can expect the healthcare reforms mentioned, improving access and affordability for all. The election result and ‘credit crunch’ create a compelling mandate for economic reform.

From my side of the pond, and probably the most of the world, it will be his foreign policy that will be most under scrutiny. How will he approach the threat of terrorism? How will he deal with Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran? Not to forget Syria. Mainly, will he adopt a more multi-lateral approach or have the same ‘go it alone’ mentality like Bush? Will he appeal to American to view themselves as part of a wider world dealing with the same issues (i.e. financial crisis, terrorism, rise of China) and if he does, will he be successful?

And last but definitely not the least – is Barack Obama going to be able to live up to the extremely high expectations that have been placed upon him and will he be able to maintain his position on the people’s pedestal?

But before I let my archetypal British cynicism get the better of me, I reflect on the many positives of the 2008 presidential election. Whilst Obama’s victory will not heal America’s racial divides over night, it is undoubtedly of huge symbolic significance. The bigots will have been dealt a major blow and those that complain that black youngsters lack positive role models will have to re-evaluate their views.

Ultimately Obama’s election sends a positive message the rest of the world. He has pledged to bring American troops home and end the ‘Bush Doctrine’ (If Sarah Palin is reading – this is the policy of pre-emptive aggression against states that either harbour or aid terrorists).

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2 Comments

  1. Awale Olad says:

    Great stuff

    I always enjoy reading your work. More – we want MORE.

    Awale

  2. Tulip says:

    Thanks Awale. That’s very kind. I’ll post my next article tonight.