Barak Obama: A Bigger than American Dream
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 6, 2008
Obama may be running for President of the United States, but he represents a dream that has implications far beyond America's borders.
If America can transcend the color barrier and elect a black man president, it will have completed one of the last tasks remaining following the founding of this constitutional republic over 200 years ago. [note: the editorial states "democracy," but strictly speaking the US is a republic] It will have transcended skin color. It will have transcended race. It will have realized the ideal that "all men are created equal." The fulfillment of this "American Dream" will be a inspiration and a model for nations of the world plagued by racial, color, religious, and linguistic conflicts.
Obama defeated the proud Hillary to win the Democratic nomination. Obama is like a water droplet. By refracting the surrounding world, the droplet becomes a brilliant crystal. Obama is a "political commodity" who reflects the dazzling possibilities of democracy by promising to break through the barrier of human prejudice. Some say his campaign committee turned his skin color into a successful selling point. It would be more accurate to say that a color-blind society is the missing piece of the American dream. Obama's emergence has inspired many people to demand the completion of this puzzle.
But Obama's advantage was not merely his skin color. It was his multi-ethnic background. His father of African descent, his white mother, his Indonesian stepfather, his childhood experience in Asia, and his middle name, "Hussein." All of these are integrated under Obama's coffee colored skin. For an increasingly multi-ethnic America, he holds a special attraction. Obama fought a six month long primary battle against the ambitious Clintons and the Democratic Party power structure, with its entrenched elites. He faced them down cooly and calmly. He created his own style. When sensitive issues arose he handled them deftly, demonstrating a sophistication beyond his rather thin resume.
In a very real sense, Obama's victory over Hillary reflects the American voter's disillusionment with the status quo ante in Washington. After Obama won the Iowa primaries, he made a moving speech. He said, "We are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America." "We have given people who never took part in the political process a reason to." "We knocked out those who use politics against their opponents, instead of for their country." He demanded bottom-up change, inspiring grass-roots voters and dispelling any doubts Washington politicians might have held about him. Party delegates had no choice but to follow the irresistible tide of public support for him.
More precisely, Obama's rise, represents voters' desire to change the system. Hillary represents traditional career politicians in Washington, cronyism, and vested interests. If Hillary is elected President, the Clinton and Bush families will together have set a new record by ruling the United States for over 20 years. This issue has not yet been brought to surface. But most Americans know perfectly well that when and elective democracy has turned into dynastic secession, something is seriously wrong. The people have become more and more alienated from politics. By contrast, Obama's youth, calm demeanor, humble background, multifaceted public image, have all become political assets. They have become the people's hope for change in Washington.
But the Obama legend also holds out a potential trap: deification. Voters are heavily invested in the notion that Obama is a candidate who has transcended race. They are too eager to believe the narrative accounting for his victory. The result is Obama has not been subjected to any real tests. Does he have the experience and qualifications to preside over a superpower? This is the question his opponents have been asking the most. Some people worry that if Obama is elected President, he will end up like Jimmy Carter, an outsider in Washington unable to penetrate Washington's inner workings. He might wind up achieving nothing. But others think that if someone as deficient in international understanding as Bush Junior can be president for eight years, Obama is unlikely to be any worse.
Elections has always been like this. At any point in time and space, people can never understand everything at once. They can only understand what matters to them the most. Today, during the early years of the 21st century, Americans are tired of the United States enacting the role of a loudmouthed and loutish global cop. They are tired of seeing the same old faces in Washington. In Barak Obama, they see a rapidly rising star. The American public wants its dream, a nation that has transcended racism. They want it because they know their nation still lives under its dark shadow.
Obama has a dream -- a nation that transcends "blue donkeys" and "red elephants." Obama knows that only by returning America to the American people, can this dream be fulfilled. The ROC has just transcended the Blue vs. Green divide. When we look at the dream Obama is attempting to achieve, our hearts must be filled with hope, and our intellects with understanding.
2008.06.06 03:45 am