The color of Senator Barack Obama’s skin is attracting the most attention in this year's ongoing U.S. presidential campaign. The Democratic nominee, with half the blood in his veins African, has been commended as the "star of change,” and now appears especially dazzling and splendid with his victory in the recent primaries.
The Times of London saw Obama's victory as evidence that "the United States remains a land of opportunity," and persisted that "this moment's significance is the resounding proof of the truism about America as a land of opportunity: Mr. Obama's opportunity to graduate from Harvard and take Washington by storm."
The Times continued to assert that his victory also demonstrates "the opportunity that the world's most responsive democratic system gives its voters to be inspired by an unknown; the opportunity that outsiders now have to re-assess the superpower that too many of them love to hate.”
One of the causes of the Western media’s lavishing overwhelming praise on Obama is his skin color, and the change that he may bring to American society. Hence, the ideal annotation to the "American dream" could be alteration of the image of the United States with the election of a young black president.
Indeed, Sen. Barack Obama does not at all represent the white Anglo-Saxon protestants (WASPs) - those who belong to the group of middle- and upper-class Americans descended from the British or Northern European settlers, generally regarded as the traditional dominant and privileged group in the U.S. His success, nevertheless, is credited to the fact that he does not underscore his racial features, and has even intentionally drawn a clear line between himself and radical blacks. So, it can be said that Obama triumphs either because of his skin color or his aversion toward it.
Even though he has a different color of skin than that of his white countrymen, he shares the "same American background.” Obama has the superb talent of a gifted graduate from a top-rate American university, and is a representative of racial merging rather than a symbol for assimilation. Thus, his rise has not eliminated the privileges of white Americans, but on the contrary, reinforced them.
The status of black Americans has certainly upgraded or improved much to date, as compared with three or four decades ago. This is first ascribed to the struggles waged by black people themselves, secondly to social progress, as more and more white Americans have become aware that racial discrimination runs counter to the historical trend, and third, to the black population’s acknowledging mainstream American values. Obama is, of course, without exception. That's the reason he needs to display his American values all the more than any white presidential candidates.
Obama's acknowledgment of an "American background" helps us acquire a better understanding of another of his charismatic hallmarks – that is, being young and vigorous. It seems that Obama is more able to meet the general public’s psychological demand for social change, but not without turbulent prospects. A face-off between the fledgling, young black lawyer Obama, and the seasoned, yet crafty, white war veteran John McCain, coupled with the general sentiment in the U.S. to aspire for both a new start and renewed stability, poses the question: How great is Obama's preponderance over McCain?
In fact, the most acute contest in the current presidential race does not lie in vital differences between administrative programs or policies, but in the inevitable need for nominees of both parties to voice a drive toward pressing major social change. Both the Democratic and the Republican presidential hopefuls are expected to play the "reform" card, which is sure to be contained or curbed in many spheres of their campaigns, thus making it difficult for them to display their great disparities.
In the case of the Iraq War, Obama is quite determined and resolute in opposition. But, as a matter of fact, how to withdraw American forces from Iraq, and, if they really are pulled out, how then to cope with the country’s internal turmoil remains unclear. No one is convinced that such a complex issue can be resolved with firm opposition alone. Similar or identical pressing issues also exist in such fields as the economy, social security, and education.
Furthermore, American voters do not fail to recognize that every newly elected president will have limited authority to stay the course of his own commitments on the first day he assumes the presidency. Social change may take place, but not without pre-conditions and time. For either Obama or McCain, the crux of the matter is how to enlighten voters of their detailed plans, and how to convince voters of their eventual fulfillment. Onlookers of the American presidential race must not be confused by a change of roles on the "performing stage," but try and see clearly what changes these roles are to make.