CSMS Magazine Staff Writers
Historic in all of its nature, the long and treacherous campaign is finally coming to a close, and if Barack Obama pulls it off on Tuesday night, it will be the first time someone other than a white male Anglo-Saxon occupies the White House. Despite countless predictions favoring Obama, the whole world holds its breath and waits in mounting anxiety to see if history can truly be made on Tuesday night. Republican candidate John McCain hopes to defy the odds by staging an upset victory. He is trailing in the opinion polls, and in the strategic battleground states, his prospect is at best dire.
While the pundits continue to watch the countdown and blare the airwaves with bombastic predictions, it becomes clear that behind the frenzy now lives an already factored-in chagrin. Waiting for another four years to do it again sounds like an eternity for those who make their livings by preying on people’s emotions.
Traditional politicians in industrial societies thrive on an acute way of creating false alarms in a quest to achieve clannish political victories. Despite the fact the fundamental remains intact, this year—though—a change in tune and in hope is sweeping America’s electoral landscape with Barack Obama oozing his way to the presidency against insurmountably invisible barriers. Does that mean America in a blur has become a genuine multicultural country where cross-cultural awareness is now the norm? Michael Dash, retired history professor from Indiana University of Bloomington claims it is too premature to draw such conclusion. “America is at a crossroad. The country’s continued imperial status lies only on a change in the course of history, and Barack Obama represents the crossing of a strategic threshold on the road to achieving the mechanisms to maintain this desired aim,” Dash asserts.
Dash goes on to say that the rise of emerging powers in Asia and the reconstitution of the “Russian historical power renders the American dream of global dominance all the more remote.” Larry Sonovar, a distinguished scholar and an expert in multicultural issues seems to echo Dash’s assertion and observation when he points out that the link between industrial powers (Europeans and North Americans) and the emergence of intertwined economies between countries like Brazil and India as new development the long and strategic balance between North and South. To Sonovar, this new development constitutes the biggest affirmation of a world edging day by day toward the realization of a true multi-polar/multicultural entity.
But the global economy has also carved the sphere of influence of traditional industrial powers, and resorting to military might to reassert former glory may work in the short one, but may prove to be catastrophic in the long one, because the emerging powers like China, while very well aware of their limitations, clearly have a perfect grasp over the scope of their newfound prestige and influence. That is one of the major rifts—the invisible wall—that will forever prevent old powers from reclaiming their past imperial thrones.
Hegemony or survival?
If there were any doubt about the uncertainty that lies ahead as the United States is struggling to hold its ground as a superpower, the current financial crisis on Wall Street—the fly of capital that it has triggered—and the mood of the country in general in the face of an economic meltdown is clear indicative to such reality. No protectionist policy can ever be sufficed to stave off further deterioration of personal accumulation of wealth, for the end result would be perilous to a long anticipated sturdy but not speedy economic recovery. The country’s GDP (Gross National Product) is in itself not sufficient without both foreign investments and joint economic ventures between American firms investing overseas and countries like China that perfectly understand their newfound clout. On top of that, the ever-growing dependence on foreign countries for energy consumption justifies that the country can ill afford any successful unilateral economic policy and still maintain its global hegemony.
Barack Obama: The best hope?
If the coming of Obama is viewed as the anticipated coming of the Messiah for the average citizen, it is to some extent for the country’s upper class the late San Salvador, the midnight rescuer in a financial train that is slowly losing steam. One can explain why so much money—more than half a billion dollars—have been poured into his campaign to make sure the candidate’s choice has the upper hand in the final showdown. To many observers, this is the best campaign money can buy. There are several factors one must take into account to understand why Barack Obama emerges as the man who can “salvage” America’s image abroad even if at home the occupation of the White House by its first black family would only create a mirage, a mere illusion that the colorblind society has finally been materialized.
First, it is the Obama mania that is currently engulfing the world. From Alaska to Patagonia, from Scandinavia to the Cape of Good Hope, across the globe, interest in Obama has reached historical proportion. More than 200,000 people turned out to see him in Berlin when he made a trip abroad to bolster his foreign policy credentials last spring. If the world had its way, the Illinois senator could have been crowned the King of America since he became the rock star candidate during the electoral primaries. His boyish face, his eloquent speeches and most importantly his out-the-norm (the outsider) approach have seduced millions worldwide, which is indicative that America was never truly hated abroad.
For years, the world’s view of the United States was that it is a wonderful country full of opportunities but ran by a ruling elite egocentrically nonchalant, dangerously arrogant and out of touch with the world reality. Millions are hoping that an Obama presidency will work to eliminate these conceptions, and the world will finally enter an era of greater stability even as the Illinois senator never hides his militarist stand over Afghanistan. For this important factor, the US upper class has thrown its support behind the man of the hour, who could seemingly turn red into green.
However, the world’s gleeful hope may soon turn into outright despair, once it becomes clear that Barack Obama was never black or white or yellow or green. He is simply an American president sworn in to defend, militarily if necessary, America’s strategic interests at home and abroad. When geo-strategic interests collide with humanitarian deeds, an American president will always do what he was empowered to do: upholding the status quo and opting for the strategic deterrence even if his action displeases millions at home and regardless of how the world’s opinion might view him.
Here at home, Obama beats the record for drawing the largest crowd in US presidential election history, assembling one hundred thousand (100,000) in Denver just a week before the general election. He gathered gargantuan crowds in Portland, Oregon, in Saint Louis, Missouri etc… Expectation is high, so is the risk for disappointment. It would be a grave mistake to believe an economic miracle will take place in a relatively short time. Obama will take over the presidency against the backdrop of a steep decline in the economy and two lingering wars. The war in Iraq enters its sixth year with no end in sight despite the trumpeting cry of “victory” following the surge. In Afghanistan, the world is now witnessing a war that is becoming more and more protracted with the growing confidence and sophistication of the Taliban.
Nonetheless, an Obama victory would represent a wholesale rejection of the status quo, and with the Democrats in a majority in Congress, Barack Obama might have his way in filtering some of his electoral agenda, especially on the issue of lowering taxes and fixing the healthcare problem. But no matter who wins on Tuesday night, Obama will always be remembered as the relatively newcomer, the 47-year-old first-term senator from Chicago, who took the national stage by storm and effectively revolutionized electoral politics in the United States.
Obama reneged on an earlier pledge to stay in the public financing system for the general election if his opponent would do the same. In doing so, he became the first to reject taxpayer money, raising $641 million from a breathtaking 3.2 million donors. And according to the Associated Press, Obama’s move has “dealt what’s almost certain to be a fatal blow to the post-Watergate-era system for presidential campaigns.” Obama has also put in place in impressive cyber-networking tool that brought in legions of new voters, which made Howard Dean’s embrace of the Internet in 2004 look like a toddler toy. Obama used the Internet to usher an unheard-of frenzy that included YouTube videos, partisan and nonpartisan blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook. John McCain, on the other hand, accepted $84 million in public funds and went on to collect more than $250 million in contributions from donors.
So, in a little less than 3 days, the world will have the opportunity to watch history in the making. But for the average American voter, an Obama victory will not necessarily mean the end of the racial divide in the United States. Nor will it mean the disappearance of the gap between the haves and the have-nots. But it will surely mean that the majority of voters will have chosen to vote their pocketbook in lieu of a chauvinistically outdated patriotism clouted in prejudice and bias toward the dominant culture.