When 45 years ago Martin Luther King Jr made his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, most Americans would not have bet on a black American running for the White House as early as 2008. It is a measure of how far American society has progressed, as indeed a testament to Barack Obama’s own incredible journey to the top of the heap, that this historic moment has come to pass. As he accepted the Democratic nomination on Thursday night in front of a packed crowd of 80,000 people in a Denver stadium — watched by tens of millions of Americans on TV — Obama dished out a perfect blend of atmospherics and specifics.
Despite America’s disenchantment with the Bush administration, it isn’t going to be a cakewalk to the White House for Obama. That’s partly because to a large number of Americans, Obama is still a distant figure. He comes from a middle-class background but has moved so far up that ordinary working class Americans often find it difficult to relate to him. And then there is his lack of experience in Washington that is often cited to question his credentials.
But these attacks don’t seem to perturb Obama. Because, as he sees it, this election is one that will usher in change — his campaign slogan — in the way America conducts its politics and is governed. He has been criticised for being all fluff and no substance by the Republicans, a charge that he took head on in his acceptance speech where he detailed his plans for the economy and specified how he would approach issues such as health care, education, energy security, foreign policy and national security. His commitment to end the war in Iraq and focus the American military’s energies on setting Afghanistan in order is welcome, especially from the Indian point of view. New Delhi’s strong ties with Washington are set to continue whatever the next dispensation in America. Obama’s prospective deputy, Joseph Biden, is known to be well disposed towards India and John McCain has already expressed that he would continue with the Bush administration’s India-friendly agenda.
With America’s global influence on the wane, this election could mark a watershed in how America deals with the world if Obama wins. If there is an indicator that change might be on its way, it is in the demographic mix of Obama’s supporters; it goes beyond the usual Democrat support base of union workers, African-Americans and Hispanics to include a growing constituency of young Americans of all hues, a mix that is more reflective of America today.
Courtesy – TOI