Obama: A Race to Win

When three months ago we wrote an editorial on the Barack Obama streak, we hardly attempted a prediction of how the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries in the United States would end. What captivated our attention and which that editorial focused on, was the resilience of Barack Obama, the African-American first-term senator who last week clinched the presidential ticket of his party. For his numerous supporters it was a moment to savour and a development that paints a positive image of the US as a place where it is possible for any one regardless of his background to rise to the pinnacle of his ambition.

By his victory over Hillary Clinton, his formidable opponent in the quest for the party ticket, Obama has become not only the first Black but also the first ethnic minority candidate to achieve such a feat. That is what making history is all about. All through the campaign for his party’s presidential ticket, Obama remained single-minded and would not be distracted by anything. He handled every provocation with unruffled dignity, which earned him the admiration of many party members.

Even his most implacable critics must concede that Mr. Obama has got to where he is today not by a twist of chance, but through hard work, an excellent, well focused electioneering and through his incredible gift of the garb. He has been saying and doing all the right things. Each snare on his way had been masterfully handled. In speech after speech, Obama has shown himself to be no political debutante. Nor has he come off as a dilettante even when it would have been quite convenient to toe that line as some of his opponents clearly did on critical issues. He took clear, unmistakable stands on policy issues and when he came under pressure to renounce his pastor for making seemingly unpatriotic comments about his country, he steered a more rational course, even while not agreeing with the comments of the clergyman. His mature handling of that explosive issue showed the kind of leader that Obama is and the kind of president he would be. He is certainly not the type who would compromise his moral convictions for political expediency.

Against all odds, Obama has emerged the Democratic Party’s flag bearer in the presidential election of November 4. Does he deserve his victory? Yes, in every respect. It couldn’t be for nothing that the party big guns have queued up behind him. Quite apart from his charming personality and charisma, Obama brings to his campaign a rare sense of candour and connection with literally every segment of the American society. It is no wonder that his campaign received more widespread financial support than Mrs. Clinton’s. Altogether, it is a measure of the finer evolution of US politics that an Obama is set to become the country’s next president.

What observers of the US politics have seen in the past 16 months is a display of the beauty of democracy, its dynamics and nuances in a country that has earned its reputation as the bastion of liberal democracy, notwithstanding the sometimes-racial tones of its politics. The emergence of Obama is good advertisement for America’s democracy. The son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, Obama has had his fair share of deprivations as the product of a broken home. In his semi-autobiographical book, “The Audacity of Hope” published in 2006, he admitted that his bi-racial background has come with its drawbacks and benefits. He gave much credit for whatever he is today to his white mother and grand mother whom he described as ” a rock of stability throughout my life.” Nonetheless, he was able to reflect the adversities that Blacks have suffered in a society where many still judge a man by the colour of his skin rather than by the content of his character.

By giving Obama their party’s presidential ticket, the Democrats have shown what is possible in November. The next four months are sure to witness what promises to be a grueling fight for the White House. All the same, we believe that the US is on the verge of making history.

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