Barack Obama: The Symbol of the New World

by Nnaemeka Oruh

Barack Obama’s nomination as the Presidential candidate for the Democrats is symbolic. Its symbolic nature does not derive from Obama’s race as many are wont to say; rather it derives mainly from the apparent lesson that America is the home of democracy, and that the Democratic Party best symbolizes the party of change in the contemporary world. Further, it enunciates the fact that a brand new world is about to emerge.

Prior to Tuesday the 5th of February, 2008, Obama clearly had the underdog status and many especially his then democrat rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton felt that the nomination for the Democrat’s presidential aspirant would be rounded off as early as that Super Tuesday. Events have proved not only Clinton wrong, but also other diehard cynics of change. Today, with Clinton’s termination of her campaign, and Obama’s clinching of the minimum number of delegates needed to be handed the nomination, the Democrats have set the stage for a November campaign for change in the United States.

And Obama best represents the wind of change. His youthfulness is an asset which attests to the fact that he is representative of the progressives who would bring to bear policies that represent the current and indeed future trend of the world. This positions him as the most qualified to lay the foundation of a future America that would continue to lead the entire world in the drive towards occasioning a better society in tune with the demands of the contemporary world. This seems to be a fact that the entire American citizenry have embraced. It seems that Americans, having gotten tired of the same clique of leaders who perpetrate the same policies, through the same drab way, have decided to pitch tents with somebody who offers them the “change [they] can believe in”.

Yet Obama’s journey to the top was not an easy one. A persuasive politician who surrounded himself with powerful tacticians, Obama knew that in the race for the nomination, what matters is the number of delegates you are able to grab from each state caucus or election. His tactic thus becomes that of ensuring that he wins with wide margins in states that he holds sway, while narrowing down Clinton’s lead in states where she had more influence. It was a very brilliant political tactic that saw him picking up at every state, important number of delegates that gradually added up to ensure his lead.

Obama further presented the electorates with the opportunity of inclusion. His is a politics of invitation that gives hope to the youths, to the old, and to the middle aged progressives. It was a campaign that offered opportunities for a “WE-alliance.” He didn’t flaunt experience or perfection; he didn’t beg for pity by harping on the race issue. Rather he presented himself from the very beginning as a native son who has come to guide the affairs of his fatherland through the many undulating terrains filled with uncertainties, of the future. And indeed he feels—so do we– that he best qualifies as the captain to steer the ship through the dark waters of the future: because he epitomizes change in its most progressive form.

Now that the race for the Democrats’ nomination is over, Obama’s attention has been shifted to the general election campaign. Incidentally, the race between Obama and John McCain is similar to the struggle between a father and his young son! I prefer to refer to it as a “generation struggle.” It is a question of which generation is best suited to dabble into the affairs of the future. Is it the very old generation which has lost its holding on contemporary needs, or the new generation with its firm grounding on the affairs of the present, and the needs of the future? This is a question that American electorates would be answering in November. Incidentally, a recent Associated Press article played on this generation difference when it highlighted the age difference between Obama and McCain, and goes on to show how this affects their individual tastes. Thus while Obama prefers Jay Z and Beyonce, McCain would rather go for ADBA!

Beyond the generation issue is the prevalent issues of war in Iraq, and the ailing American economy. McCain of course has always made it clear that he is in support of the continuing presence of the U.S army in Iraq. This seems to be in line with the Republican policy of war. Obama in line with the Democrat’s anti-war policy has been against the war in Iraq especially because of the losses in human lives and the finances that it has cost the U.S. This is not the place to point out how the war violates certain democratic laws of sovereignty and human rights. The essential issue is that in November, Americans will also be voting for a continuation of the war, or its end.

Apart from the war issue, another very important factor that may decide who emerges as the President come November, is the economic factor. The important issue here is that most of the big players in the American political scene will look forward to the emergence of a president that would improve the American economy. This factor may in the long run turn out to be a major factor in determining who emerges as the U.S president come November. John McCain seems to have apprehended this hence he has begun to make statements that reflect his economic position vis-à-vis Obama’s. On the 9th of June, he had asserted that Obama’s economic policies would not be favourable for small businesses. This assertion, if ingested by medium scale entrepreneurs would cost Obama substantial votes during the general elections. It is important that the American electorates remember that a few months back, McCain and Clinton had both called for gas tax holidays as against Obama’s staunch refusal to any gas tax holiday. Obama’s position was later vindicated as economic analysts have shown that McCain’s position was based on emotional postulation and not on in-depth economic analysis of the situation. It seems that some utterances are specifically meant to deceive the electorates.

It is important that as Obama barracks to the presidency, that he remembers the key factors that will determine his success or otherwise in the race. It is thus important that he formulates a formidable economic policy put together by seasoned economic analysts. This, together with his perfect grounding as a representative of the younger generation will foreground his indispensability. This is not the time to pop champagne corks and bask in the euphoria of the nomination. This is the time to call together (as a wise man) all the seasoned political tacticians that helped him win the party nomination and say “my brothers and sisters, how do we do this again?”

To the American electorates however, the issue is, here is the change you can believe in; here is the change you have persistently asked for; here is the hope for the future; here is the opportunity to take the lead again and prove to the world that you are the most progressive of all nations. Will you take it or let it slip through your fingers?

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