Barack Obama

I’ve been watching the elections back in the states more fervently than I would like to admit. It’s ridiculous while at the same time very exciting. In 2000, I would have been extremely excited by a McCain nomination. Now, with the incredible promise of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I find myself being far more critical than I really think I deserve to be. After eight years during which many people like me would have voted for almost anyone should it mean Bush leave the White House, it’s sort of bewildering to have two intriguing, historical options.

As a young person who remembers watching Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory on television, remembers the paltry, cynical divisiveness of those years, I cannot envision a Clinton presidency as healthy. Barack Obama is right in characterizing it as more of the same. Mrs. Clinton is razor-sharp, dedicated, and she would make an excellent president. But she would perpetuate the rule of our country by two families into a third decade. 2008 is an opportunity to start fresh. A Clinton-McCain race would only offer a choice between which side of the argument you want to continue. Barack Obama represents new energy, and at 46, would be a pretty sharp contrast to McCain at 72.

I don’t claim to know that Obama would beat McCain or that a Clinton nomination would mobilize conservatives. No one knows the outcome. Six months ago, everyone had written off McCain, and could not shut up about Fred Thompson, the moron actor with the hot wife. Same with Giuliani last summer. Same with Howard Dean’s “inevitability” in the summer of 2003. Even the Economist featured a piece on Hillary’s inevitability last fall, before any primaries had taken place, although it wisely acknowledged the annoying impossibility of predicting a year into the future.

While I did not vote in the Super Tuesday primary for Democrats abroad, and I am still registered as undeclared in Alaska, I look forward to seeing Obama receive the Democratic nomination. He is exciting, his message is thrilling, underneath his message of hope exists real policy, and his website kicks serious ass. Really, it’s beautiful. Visit it, then visit Hillary’s. You don’t need a degree in design to recognize the difference.

In some ways, the enthusiasm for Obama, particularly among young people, reminds me of the enthusiasm for Howard Dean four years ago. Their fundraising methods at least, are similarly successful. The reasons for the enthusiasm are different, though, and I would be surprised to see Obama’s campaign collapse especially since he is the front runner for the nomination in not only conventional wisdom (not usually wise) but delegate count too. Obama’s message touches the patriotic heart of every American who really believes in the positive effect of change. I really do think it is a patriotic movement, closer to the definition of that word than its perverted usage suggests.

Discussing America with Katya last week while driving through the snowy Russian countryside, I realized not only how optimistic we are as Americans, but how truly we believe in the mythos of America, no matter how liberal or counterculture or politically critical we are. The thought that America has a destiny for greatness rings of a jingoism that embarrasses progressive minded people, but the root of that thought is buried somewhere in our culture, in our upbringing, and I think it’s a good thing. Obama has this source of energy tapped, and I think it could mean great things for America.

3 replies on “Barack Obama”

Hey, douchebag. Next time you want us to go to a different website, make a hyperlink–none of this copy-paste bullcrap (which I didn’t do). Anyway, I liked your last paragraph. Stupid.

Kiri thinks you’re stupid. That was her. She was nice enough to correct the mechanics in my previous sentence, though (ope, and in this one too). Well, we’re fighting over the keyboard anyway. That was Kiri.

You need to watch The Wire. Obama reminds me of this character on it in the fourth season. And this kind of shapes my opinion about what kind of president Obama will end up being.

Dude, I realized the link mistake the other day, but your incredibly rude and inappopriate comment helped inspire me to correct it.

Douchebag is a great word though, and I don’t mind being called one in jest.

I have to say, as someone who agrees with Sean’s assessment of Barack Obama and an avid fan of The Wire, that comparing Barack Obama to Tommy Carcetti is not altogether wrong, but is extremely cynical. While we have no way of knowing how a Barack Obama nomination or presidential term would turn out, Carcetti’s character shows that it is difficult to change a system form within when that system is responsible for getting you in the position you need to be in to change it. That said, Carcetti in the fifth season using homelessness as a key issue in his gubernatorial is strikingly similar to Barack Obama’s use of his opposition to the war in Iraq. It’s a central theme to his campaign however it offers nothing more than an “told you so” to the other major candidates. It was a good piece of foresight by Obama, but has little to do with the future of our nation. Maybe it proves the decision making of Obama, but if I recall he was not yet a U.S. Senator.

Something I would like to add to the positives of Barack Obama as president is his ethnicity. More directly, he is half-black. There a couple of reasons I think this is important. First off, the race relations issue in the U.S. is the major domestic issue of our lifetime. We are a generation and a half removed from the civil rights movement and there is still so much more that needs to be done to improve the disparity in this country between different ethnicities. This is an issue that really involves all ethnicities but chief among them is the white-black divide. Now many of these disparities can be chalked up to a poverty divide rather than a race divide, but there is a cultural change that needs to be made in the black community of America. I’ll simplify the problem to make my point quickly (well, quick-er). The major role models for young black men are either in the hip-hop industry or in the NBA. Jay-Z, a former drug dealer, turned rapper, turned business man is the role model for most young black men. While his story can be inspiring, he made most of his money glorifying the street culture that is most detrimental to progress in African-American communities. Barack Obama as president would constitute a major shift in role models for young black men. (I keep saying ‘young black men’ instead of a gender neutral term because Oprah is an incredible example for young black women, but it really mixes too many factors into what I’m trying to say). There have been black politicians in high office before, notably two Secretaries of State in the Bush administration, but a black person in a Republican cabinet give a “token” air, even if unfairly. That changes with a black president. There is nothing “token” about a president. It is the most public and purportedly the most powerful position in the United States and, at one time, the world. The biggest thing people need to strive to succeed is hope. Hope alone does nothing, but it is the starting point. There are many changes necessary to give a black kid growing up in, let’s say West Baltimore, the same chances as someone who grew up in nice suburb in Orange County, but hope comes first. A teacher in an inner city school could put up a picture of Barrack Obama and say “You can be the motherfucking President of the United States” and I believe that will make a huge difference in the lives of those kids. This is one other reason, especially as a fan of The Wire, you might want to reassess comparing Barack to Tommy Carcetti, because even if he is just another politician riding the wave of hope to the top and going back on his promises, this is one hope that no one can take away.

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