The Audacity Of Barack Obama: An American Dream
The Audacity of An Ambition: The Political Economy of Obama’s Electoral Victory*
On November 4th, 2008, Americans went to the polls and made a statement to the rest of the world by electing Barack Obama the first African American to be the President of the
The economic situation, the loss of real estate values and pension savings coupled with increasing rate of unemployment contributed in no means measure to the election of Barack Obama. In a free market environment and the world leading capitalist economy, the election was simply more about the economy. Barack Obama for months hammers on why the country was in economic stupor. From expensive wars overseas, to inept policies and perceived incompetence of the Republican administration, he was able to convince Americans to look beyond him and revisit their economic dire straits and ask themselves if they can afford another four more years of the same. That was a very convincing and we now know, successful sale. It worked because at any other time and with a different strategy, it might have been difficult for candidate Obama to close the deal. However there were other contributing factors as well.
As President-elect Obama prepares to ascend the Presidential seat and the most powerful office in the world on January 20th 2009, we must also note that, although we may have seen his win as an historic achievement, we must nevertheless recognize that, he did it in a very unique way.
First, Barack Obama stood on the shoulder of giants and this must not be lost on all of us. As a French analyst put it on Charlie Rose on the night of the election, “Rosa Park sat for Martin Luther King Jr to match, for Barack Obama to run and for
It has taken over 220 plus years for Americans to achieve this landmark but it is a signal to the rest of the world that, it can be done. If Obama could win in the
Barack Obama’s personality also contributed to his success at the polls. He is perceived as an intelligent, cool and dynamic individual. And by the time questions about Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers and others were raised, it fails to undermine his candidacy. This was because for months on end, he and his campaign were able to drum it into the American psychic, that candidate Obama is above them.
Charismatic leadership, ability to communicate and to inspire and to raise people’s hope remains an important ingredient for leadership and Obama possess it all. He used it well and as we found out words do matter. Since that evening four years ago, at the democratic convention, when he introduced him self to
We also have new generation of voters. These new voters were not only the under 30s years of age, who were post racial in their world view but also new registrants who want to be part of history. These new voters came out in drove to cast their votes on the day of the election. When you combine this with the energy of the Barack Obama’s grass-root organization and mobilization, which doomed the
Obama also had the heavy financial advantage. The fact that he was able to raise over 160million dollars in the last month before the election alone makes the task even more difficult for McCain as it was for Mrs Clinton earlier during the primary. The effective use of the internet and the effect of the grass root fundraising capabilities help made it happened. The implication for the future is two fold: From now on, more and more Americans will able to support their candidates through small donations, the way millions supported Obama or we will see another campaign reforms which will force a limited financial options on the candidates for the most powerful office in the world.
From the Republican enabling factor, with the financial meltdown, President Bush’s problems to Barack Obama‘s charisma, his campaign strategy, the financial advantage and the time for change, the election of Mr Obama became inevitable. Obama has a lot of people to thank too. From Booker T Washington to W E B.Dubois, to Martin Luther King Jr, to Rosa Park, To Malcolm X, to Louis Farrakhan (even if one disagrees with him, his mere existence helps one to appreciate the other alternative-Obama) and to Jesse Jackson. There are many others to thank as well, the list include those who have blazed trails in their respective professions such Cornel West, Louis Henry Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Tiger Wood, Wills Smith, Michael Jackson, Bob Johnson and thousand others. These people while excelling in their professions have proved somehow to
The next step is for all, to now dream of this possibility. From Women, to Hispanic Americans, to Asian American and Native American, from Americans in the remote towns of
*Bamidele A Ojo.PhD
Professor of Political Science
African Studies Program
School of Political & International Studies
** Watch out for: Obama and African Leadership: Time for Tough Love
(It is time for a responsible and accountable leadership on the continent of Africa and a for an American President to make that call which will no longer be seen as neo imperialist because a son of Africa is now the one making it.President Barack Obama should start calling these leaders to order. It is time for re-liberation of the African people. It is time to bring our two worlds and the rest of the world together. It is time for real American leadership that inspires all on behalf of all.