Leonardo Goi (Italy, AC 07-09)
Whilst the countdown for the American Presidential elections is about to reach 60 days, Barack Obama, together with the new elected Vice President Joe Bidden, sets off to end his overwhelming campaign journey. After having crashed Hillary Clinton’s coalition and overrun Mr McCain in the general consensus quota, Mr Obama now faces challenges possibly subtler than ever: convincing the Democrats – along with his future electors – of his ability to wipe out the last doubts hindering his path towards the White house.
On August 28th Barack Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, before tens of thousands of supporters in Denver. Forty-five years after Martin Luther King’s utopian dream, America’s hopes of change lie in the hands of a new multicultural candidate, eager to restore the audacity of hope of his country.
To do so, Mr Obama will have to dig deep. The vein of hope of America, wounded by the bitter Bush era, awaits for someone willing to penetrate through years of sorrow and mistakes, blindly, as in a perpetual journey towards the roots of America’s faith. Lord Byron once referred to dreams as a “wide realm of wild reality”. Awakening the wide reality of twenty-first century America might be Mr Obama’s smartest move. As the last hopes are smothered by four years of undying war, vain responses to terrorist threats and the proximity of an economic crisis potentially catastrophic, Mr Obama’s « yes, we can » stems from a sour disenchantment of the previous Republicans mandates, but also from America’s eternal need to dream. Mr Obama’s challenge will be to awake America from its oblivion, dismantling the false hopes upon which Bush era stood.
It will not be easy. After Denver’s convention, Mr Obama will have 68 days to convince his electors and party members. He will have to struggle against the false myths of his country, defeat the ignorance and arrogance of his predecessor’s foreign policies, revitalize capital investment, and put an end to America’s complexes of inferiority with the outside world, restoring, once and for all, the « American dream ». Being a concept used and abused too often, its resurrection will have to lack rhetoric devices and complex images: facts, rather than words.
Seen under this light, Mr Obama’s mission appears monumental. But so was his rise to Denver, and the defeat over the Clintonians, and the shift of pools which now see him eight points ahead of his rival, Mr McCain. Barack Obama is capable of fulfilling his tasks. In the era of post-racial politics, the election of the first non-white president would not be a huge surprise, but rather the coronation of a path towards justice.
Doubts, however, remain. Mr Obama’s “ingenious lack of specificity” has ever since prevented others – electors, opponents, supporters – to grasp the essence of his politics. His position on foreign policy has reflected a critic tendency to waffle on important issues, such as during the Georgian crisis, or whether or not to talk with Iran and Syria. If security is the trade mark of Republicans, so is economics for Democrats. Yet pools see Mr McCain ahead of Mr Obama in terms of dealing with economic issues, even though he has openly admitted he does not know much about the argument. Mr Obama, who has confessed to be « a blank screen on which people of vastly different stripes project their own views », risks to lose the grip over the pillars of his own coalition. If Mrs Clinton was more capable of empathizing with middle class electors, Mr Obama’s behaviour – though at times apathetic – has enabled him to secure voters amongst the poorest classes, to the detriment of the most well-off which still question his lack of patriotism and his modus operandi.
To allay these doubts, Mr Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate allowed him to strengthen his own support amongst those doubting of his political skills. Mr Biden has an evitable background on foreign policy, and his experience in Yugoslav and Iraq wars will compensate Mr Obama’s “lack of specificity”. He has served as a chairman of the Foreign Relations committee and head of Judiciary Committee. Being a Roman Catholic, his support will be vital in convincing those who still question Mr Obama’s religious roots.
But all the rest will be up to the 47-year-old Illinois Senator. His « yes we can » will have to become a universal call for all Americans, and maintain the evangelical matrix of Martin Luther King’s dream of 45 years ago. Yes – we can divert economic polarization back within East and West coasts; yes – we can remove troops from Iraq ending the thoughtless invasion so emphasized by Mr McCain; yes – we can stop talking tough in Washington and negotiate face to face with Iran; and finally, yes – we can restore America’s diplomatic position to the eyes of the world, and give a new birth to the American dream. A wide realm of wild reality.
– United World College Student Magazine –