Obama's Endorsement: Lessons for Africa
On November 4, 2008, win or lose, Senator Barrack Obama will truly turn the pages of America's social, cultural and political history. The contemplation of the fact that Obama's possible presidential victory through the American ballot box is potentially a few days away is humbling and joyful.
We go back to the historic dateline of Tuesday June 3, 2008 which has become etched in the collective history of mankind as a worthy milestone. "Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another- a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States." With those soaring words, the history of this day continues to resonate all over the world as Senator Barrack Obama, the savvy, hardworking son of a Kenyan immigrant and White mother, shattered the iron-gates of what seemed culturally and politically impossible. Now, we await midnight November 4!
With only 3 years in the U.S Senate, Obama's thunderbolt rise seems almost metaphysical and a remarkably unique political moment in America to win the Democratic nomination and became the first African American with a credible, viable and realistic chance of winning the presidency of the United States. Yes, Obama came this far by the grace of God and his creating the most cross-ethnic and trans-generational coalition in the history of American politics; indeed of any modern society.
Ahead of November 4 presidential balloting, America is again, showing itself as a country large enough to uplift some of its very best. Obama is one such person. Evidently, America continues to have a place for the purposeful and the capable, and has shown a capacity to turn the page of history, however difficult and untidy. Are politics ever tidy? No. After all, it has been long and hard, and sometimes bloody, for persons of African descent in America to have the right to vote until the 1960s.
On June 3, 2008, Obama won convincingly past the "magic number" of 2,118 delegates, by resolutely defeating his hard-charging, relentless opponent, former American First Lady New York Senator Hillary Clinton and the entire bare-knuckle Clinton machine for the Democratic nomination. It made Obama to become the first African American with a credible, viable and realistic chance of winning the presidency of the United States. It is possible, now!
The 46-year old former assistant professor of law soared in speech, again, on June 3, 2008 following his party's unprecedented nomination: "You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations," Obama told teeming supporters at a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota. The same choice of hopes versus fears is at the crux of the November 2008 showdown between Obama and Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate.
For many African immigrants to America such as me who's younger than Barrack Obama, the aspiration, strategic value, psychological impetus and meaning of his history-making win of the numbers for the Democratic Party presidential slot are almost immeasurable.
First, it offers the reality that no matter its imperfections, America is still the greatest land of opportunities and possibilities in the world. Only in America can the son of goat herders, the son of an African professional, the son of a Kenyan scholar from the Nyangoma-Kogelo community, defeat the wife of a former president, a sitting senator (Hillary Clinton and other well-known public officials) in a hard-fought, fair contest of will, strategies, ideas and policies. Soon, it may be McCain's turn....
Second, it offers many developing countries a clear lesson that political contentions are not do-or-die affairs, settled only by guns, missiles and machetes. Recall that only 70 days or so ago, members of the same senatorial districts in Obama's shared heritage homeland of Kenya, ethnic groups of the same country decided to settle ballot box disagreements in murderous weeks of conflicts. Here, Americans of all races, gender and generations preferred to vote via ballot boxes.
Third, the world is going more towards the politics of progressive, cross-ideological coalitions, and those win over ancient grudges and shibboleths of division. Hence, Obama's history-making victory of June 3, 2008 --win or lose the November 2008 elections-- finds further resonance from his words to those who voted that "You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations." Yes, it was fuelled by their hopes for a renewed, refreshing vigor, a guided, hopeful risk for their children's future
Despite all the divisive spin, nuanced racist appeals, and sundry Bill Clinton's 'Bubba' fulminations, Americans gathered around Obama with their votes for the most cross-ethnic and trans-generational coalition in the history of American politics; indeed of any modern democratic society.
Fourth, the political-demographics implication of June 3 tally of Obama's votes among others, is that more Americans sidestep Hillary's varied mis-speaks and tortured mis-thoughts set on fuzzy math and banal pandering to look towards the Kennedesque-Reaganesque America as a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.
Fifth, the other major meaning of this Obama moment for the world and America is that America offers decade’s old opportunities for which you may never predict its fullness, ultimate value or time of fruition. Recall that when this country offered his father Barrack Hussein Obama, Sr. the opportunities for higher education including attending Harvard as an economist, the seed for the younger Obama's giving back to America was sown. It was a support which also had major support by individuals such as Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Jackie Robinson, and Elizabeth Mooney Kirk according to the Kenyan Tom Mboya's archives at Stanford University, California. The visionary, pan-human practical goals of public service endemic to most of America's university curricula saw the ring and part of that fullness coming together on June 3, 2008 at the arena in St. Paul Minnesota as the 46-year old former assistant professor of law Obama spoke to affirm his win.
Sixth, the June 3 event showed the common human interest and pulling for the underdog. As one who loves to cover rugged but lawful political conflicts, it was interesting for me to follow, daily, the tick and tock of America's presidential politics where a previously unknown David (Obama) respectfully but resolutely defeated the favored, hard-charging, relentless opponent, former American First Lady New York Senator Hillary Clinton and the entire bare-knuckle Clinton machine.
In ways and means almost reflecting the harmonization of the political, financial and strategic elements fit for a possible, history-making presidential leadership, Obama started writing and turning the pages of America's history along time ago.
Without any doubt, the June 3, 2008 affirmation of Obama as presumptive flagbearer of one of two dominant political parties in America, when set against the fitting background of the anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I've a Dream' speech dedicated, certainly adds to what I call the ever renewing story of the global brand USA, the refreshing dynamic of America, The Beautiful!
On that day, he said "we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another-- a journey that will bring a new and better day to America." With those soaring words, the history of these blessed United States added fresh pages, new chapters and new opportunities as the event continue to resonate all over the world.
Obama and McCain's history-making November 4, 2008 presidential contest will remain a milestone for underlining the singular most vibrant motto for any political campaign in the history of America, the Obama political theology and chant of making the seemingly impossible altogether possible: yes, we can! Only in America!!
By Chido Nwangwu,
Recipient of the Journalism Excellence award (1997) and Founder and Publisher of USAfricaonline www.usafricaonline.com (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet).
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