This article was published in Dominica Sun Newspaper. Mon, 09 Jun 2008.
For the first time in history the president of the United States of America could be a black man. After a bruising primaries campaign, last week Tuesday night Barack Hussein Obama won the number of delegates he required to become the first black man to lead a major US party in a race to become the president of the worldâ€™s sole power. The collective dream of black around the world has apparently come true and excited media commentators compared Obamaâ€™s achievement to the abolishment of slavery in the United States more than 200 years ago. Obama, the son of a black Kenyan and a white woman from Kansas, will now take a John McCain, the Republican nominee, in what is expected to be a brutal journey to the White House.
Obama, a 46 year old senator from Illinois was not expected to reach that far because his rival for the Democratic party nomination was the suave and experienced Hilary Clinton, the former First Lady whom Obama, supporters have compared to Shakespeareâ€™s devious lady Macbeth. Some people believe that Clintonâ€™s team collected all manner of filth during the campaign and threw in the face of her fellow Democrat. Their opponent, the Republican John McCain, could not have done better. Additionally Clinton reportedly sent spies to gather unguarded quotes from the Obama. She also damned him with the guilt of egoistic Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But the unkindest cut all was delivered during a speech that Mrs. Clinton delivered on Tuesday night in New York. Like a boxer who incredulously claims that he won a boxing match despite that fact that he was knocked out cold by a vicious right hook, adamantly maintained in the face of all evidence to the contrary that she had won the popular vote. It appears that Mrs. Clinton; having failed in her quest to become president, now want to be vice president. But it is our view that Obama would be making a serious error if he chooses Mrs. Clinton as his running mate.
Whether Obama becomes the president of the US or not, we believe that his campaign so far has had a tremendous impact on race relations in the United States. When DR. Martin Luther King gave his great â€œI have a dreamâ€ speech 40 years ago could he have envisaged that a charismatic, eloquent, brilliant black man would have a real chance of defeating a white American in a major general election in 2008? Similarly, Malcolm X, Stokley Carmichael, Huey Newton and the other major leaders of the Black Power and civil rights movements of the Seventies would have been dumbfounded by the surge of support that Obama has received from white America in particular. This, we believe, is exactly what Dr. King meant when he said in the speech that he dreamt America would one day judge his children not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
Meanwhile, Dominicans were fascinated by the long bitter battle between Clinton and Obama for the Democratic Party nomination. They have witnessed a classic example of life imitating art: the enchanting story of a black inexperienced young man whose father came from the heart of the Nyanza province in Kenya in Africa and with a vision of hope has dared to take on the might of the formidable Clinton political machinery. Donâ€™t forget that the story also contained twists of not only race and class but gender as well. Mrs. Clinton herself tried to create history as the first female president of the US.
Of course Dominicans should be interested in American politics if only for the real drama that the players involved bring to the process. By their interest, Dominicans also show that they are aware that American politics affects every country in the world. For example, when President Bush decided that Americans should shift from oil to ethanol, produced from sugar-based or cereal crops, the cost of food skyrocketed everywhere. Similarly, if Obama keeps his promise to fix the US economy, which is now close to being in recession, his effort will have a direct impact on the Dominican population. As you are aware, a weak American economy creates high food prices, increases inflation, reduces, exports and decreases tourists arrivals in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean.
Obamaâ€™s boldness, vision and his victories at the polls, teach us a number of lessons. One of these is that we have to maximize the use all the opportunities that come our way. Obama, who was born into a poor family eventually attended one of Americaâ€™s top law schools and became one of the few blacks in the American Senate. And as Avaleen Morris, a Jamaican-American, wrote in the Gleaner recently, we have been taught subconsciously to limit ourselves so that we have been conditioned to believe that when we have reached certain goals, we should not ask for more. But â€œdespite the fact that he really couldnâ€™t ask for more, Barack Obama made use of the platform that he had been given, he used the opportunities and blessings that he possessed and dared to reach out for moreâ€, Morris wrote. And Robert Franklin, the president of Morehouse, a black college in Atlanta, summed it up when he said â€œIf Obama becomes president he will raise the ceiling for everyoneâ€.