Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama for America

Finally after a tortuous journey and an intense stand-off, Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination. In doing so, he has not only done the impossible, he has made history. He shall be the first ever black to run for office. And if he beats the Republican fella John McCain in November – I so hope he does -- he will be the first ever African-American in history to do so.

There are a few quick things to be learnt here. The beauty of liberal democracy in action. Even if Obama was vying for the top slot within the Democratic Party, it was a real battle of nerves. In the beginning, all odds were stacked against Barack --100% rookie, a political nobody, a completely green guy, with no clout or pedigree to take on the mighty Hillary. And yet he beat her and how! Obama is black, a junior senator from Illinois, has a Muslim parentage and zero lobbyists to back him. All he possessed and used to a devastating effect in these preliminaries was – vintage Hope. And hope sailed him through.

Obama impressed all and sundry. He mesmerized the audiences. He was inspiring from the word go. The consistency with which he debated his opponents and came out tops was indeed moving. His foes pulled every dirty trick in the dirty political kitty against him but he stood his ground. Then his pastor said something silly. Remarkably he didn’t disown him but rather gave a stirring race speech that went down as one of the finest ever on racial relations. End of it, Obama actually looked the Change he promised.

And he went from state to state, coast to coast, turf upon turf, taking on the extremely well-heeled, well-funded, politically suave Clinton. If Hillary was popular among the elderly whites, the Hispanics and the women, Barack’s appeal cut across the board – white and black, East to West Coast, students and workers and more importantly -- the youth. People absolutely loved his policies. His promises. His energy. The glint in his eye and the hiss in his voice struck an immediate chord. He seemed the right answer to everything wrong about Bush and his mad-men.

In endorsing Obama one is also compelled to marvel at the beauty of American democracy. It is downright participatory and grass-root level. Each candidate is laid bare as he goes through the grind. It is about wits as much as issues. It is about integrity as much as values. It is compassionate and long-winded but worth every slogan. And it is fascinatingly lovable. Barack of course chartered the choppy waters and emerged stronger and more lovable.

Now he battles the other big genie – John McCain. Barack is 46. John is 71. It is youthfulness versus experience, as they say. Courage against arrogance. Hope against fear. Already camp John has filched Obama’s election motto and tweaked it a little for their own conservative campaign. No issues here. Barack, I hope, doesn’t mind petty pilferages. We have won myriad battles; we are ready for the big war. McCain?..Bring him on.

Wait till Jan 20, 2009. You’ll have a young man as the 43rd President of the United States. Unless they don’t shoot him, as Gore Vidal and Doris Lessing think.