I know nothing about American politics and that is by choice. However, it seems the less one knows about the actual political system the better. The democratic campaign of 2008 is about emotions and faith. It is about getting excited and building hope around a person who represents the polar opposite of George Bush.
After being bombarded on the Net, the TV, the papers, the global media monster, the other day I decided to read about Obama and the only aspect that is interesting to me – Obama as a person. His family, his past, what makes him tick. I wanted to get a true feeling about whether his popularity is based on faith, fiction, myth or merit.
What I discovered surprised me. I learned that I could relate to his mother’s story – a middle class North American suburban white girl, intrigued and obsessed by other cultures, with the audacity to believe she could overcome the overwhelming challenges of loving a man from another world.
I learned that Obama’s mother was forced to realize that the union with her Kenyan husband was doomed from the start, found herself abandoned and alone when he was just a baby, and that as a single mom she wanted to establish some stability for her son. She quickly married again – never losing her thirst for exotic adventure, and moved the family to Indonesia. Obama was a privileged expat kid!! He went to the private schools and was even sent to a $14,000 per year boarding school back in that states (Hawaii) as a teenager. He did what intelligent, spoiled American teens do. He juggled schoolwork with becoming a junkie. He smoked joints and snorted cocaine.
A disturbing aspect of his troubled teen years was his proclaimed profound identity crisis and lack of self esteem as a result. And he accredited all of this to his mixed racial heritage.
He blamed his mother and her middle class caring grandparents who he lived with as a teen, for his identity crisis. He changed/shortened his name during highschool to Barry to fit in.
He idolized his absent father, and allowed the romantic and vague stories told to him by his mother as he grew up, to cloud his true judgment of his father.
The true story of his father’s life has been exposed though, courtesy of the media – however I am shocked that the conservative/republican ‘powers that be’ have not pounced on this information to grind his campaign to a screeching halt… after all, the sins of the father…
According to Obama senior’s relatives, he had 8 children in total, from 4 women whom he married concurrently. By western standards he was scum then? And a raging alcoholic who’s involvement in numerous drunk driving crashes eventually brought his demise. Hmmmm…
Obama has since written inspirational books glorifying his father’s life and struggles. But as a mother, learning what I’ve learned about their lives, I just have to assume he is deeply affected by the truth of it all. His father was nothing more than a sperm donor. Married already to a poor woman in his home village, before coniving an idealistic white lady at University in the States to marry him and bear him a child. He then moved on (to another American University, on yet another scholarship) without a glance backward. And he did not stop there. He brought another white American lady back to Kenya with him, married her as well and added more children to the flock.
There is also the fact that Obama senior was a muslim, with the name Hussein. Now what I know about Americans is that the masses have a reputation for being brain washed fear mongers who would, under normal circumstances have a field day with this type of info – drumming up a frenzied fear of the Arab enemy… Otherwise how would Bush have gotten as far as he did?
Anyway, Obama got through his teenage identity crisis by the end of college and got involved in the Democratic Party. He was determined and ambitious. He was smart and relatively charismatic. But Presidential material? I don’t know what he has done to compel people to believe he is the future of the USA. He is all about change and promise and the future. But one must examine his past and his track record in order to make a fair assessment.
The thing about this campaign is that there is no room for fair assessment. Just because there is no better alternative, does not mean Obama is the answer.
He gets the black America vote, despite being an elitist with nothing in common - no roots in slavery, no connection to the 'hoods' or the cultural markers that define this group.
He gets the middle class liberal white American vote despite their underlying racism and uneasiness. He is a chance for them to prove they are politically correct. He talks like them, they can relate...
Whoever says the issues are not racially charged is just dreaming. America is racially divided. They cannot help but to see his colour. There's a one drop rule in America! His close personal association with an extremist black preacher has been widely discussed. Yet still, he gains votes from every corner of the country in staggering numbers.
I just can’t help but think that the American public is so desperate for the promise of something new and different that they turn a blind eye to the glaring issues that would normally have thrown a candidate to the dogs before their campaign could even get off the ground.