CSMS Magazine Staff WritersIt has been some time since one can remember a US presidential candidate with a rock star status. In fact it has been 17 years since that happened, when Bill Clinton ran for president. The Illinois senator turned super tar candidate, Barack Obama, seems to have found the secret to fire up the American electorate, which has been dormant, passive for a long time. The Obama bandwagon has one slogan: Change. And his victory in Iowa appeared to have reflected that.Obama has not been entirely explicit about his change. However, knowing the widespread displeasure with the Bush Administration over the current course of the country, it only takes a new face like Obama to ignite the people anger. A war in Iraq that shows no end in sight, an economy slipping into recession, a Stock Market refusing to settle down, a real estate market on a grinding halt, gasoline prices shooting to the roof and a weakening dollar that effectively grounds thousands of Americans by keeping them from traveling abroad, especially to Europe. All these are tangible reasons to seek for an alternative to the impasse.Looking young and boyish, Barack Obama, has become the idol of young voters, and their strong showing at the caucuses last Tuesday were hard to be overlooked. Some 239,000 took part in the Democratic caucuses, nearly double the number who participated in 2004 and more than four times the number who turned out in 2000.According to Associated Press, the increased political interest is demonstrated in another comparison: the number participating in the caucuses, which required attending a two-hour meeting on Thursday night, was 50 percent more than the total number voting in the state’s Democratic primary in 2006, which had a closely contested race for the gubernatorial nomination. Young people made up a large proportion of the new caucus attendees. The number of people under 30 increased from an estimated 2,000 in 2000 and 5,000 in 2004 to as many as 52,000. The vast majority of these voted for Obama.This surge of interest was almost exclusively one-sided, for the comparative turnout in the two parties’ caucuses reflects the unpopularity of the Bush administration and the candidates linked to it. Nearly twice as many people participated in the Democratic caucuses as in the Republican, although the state is nearly evenly balanced in party registration and split nearly 50-50 in the last two presidential contests, going narrowly for Al Gore in 2000 and narrowly for Bush in 2004. The disparity among young voters was even greater: of 64,000 people under 30 who attended caucuses Thursday, 52,000 went to the Democrats and only 12,000 to the Republicans.Can Obama really deliver?Despite the media frenzy, the never-seen-before fury behind one candidate, portraying him as an insurgent figure, Barack Obama is by all account far from being the outsider, the messianic leader sent from heaven to rescue the Middle Class from uncertainty and humiliation. Obama has been assiduously promoted by sections of the Democratic Party establishment since his US Senate campaign in 2004, when he was given the role of keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention.According to the Florida Times Union, the Illinois senator’s campaign staffers are largely drawn from Democratic congressional circles, particularly those linked to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. With a large portion of the Party political machine standing firmly behind him, Obama has been able to raise more money than any Democrat in history in the year preceding the general election. The media has been focusing on one portion of that money: small donations raised through the Internet. This is just half of the story. The bulk of that money, however, came in large donations from well-heeled financial backers of the Democratic Party, who boosted Obama’s credibility as a presidential contender when he topped Hillary Clinton’s quarterly fundraising totals last year.The Washington Post has described Obama’s key fundraisers in these terms: “veterans of the Democratic financial establishment: a Hyatt hotel heiress, a New York hedge fund manager, a Hollywood movie mogul and a Chicago billionaire.” His billionaire supporters include investor Warren Buffett, currency speculator George Soros, hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones and the Henry Crown family. Obama raised more money on Wall Street than either Hillary Clinton or former New York mayor and Republican candidate Rudolph Giuliani.This makes us remember Bill Clinton in 1991 in Coral Gables, Florida. At the start of his campaign, he was able to raise millions in just one night from Cuban tycoons considered to be traditionally republicans. It is hard to imagine that Barack Obama can be regarded as an outsider, when the agent of change, as he is now being called, will find it utterly impossible to deliver that change for the “interest of the beneficiary of this popular sentiment is a conventional bourgeois politician whose program and political appeal do not challenge in the slightest the consensus of American big business politics,” explained Patrick Martin in an editorial on the WS website.“Obama specializes in hollow rhetoric about “hope,” “change” and “unity,” exemplified by his remarks Thursday night after he was declared the winner in Iowa. The very emptiness of his appeal makes it possible for voters opposed to Bush and disgusted with figures regarded as the “old guard” of the Democratic Party to project their desire for progressive change onto a politician who has no substantive differences with his Democratic rivals,” Martin continued.Already beholden to the interest of the big business, Obama has to walk on the traditional thin blue line required by all “electable” politicians. The Iraq dilemma is one good example. While he claimed Thursday night that, if elected, he would end the war in Iraq, Obama has refused to set any deadline for the withdrawal of American troops, not even by 2013, when he would be inaugurated a second time if elected this year and reelected in 2012. He has called for intensifying US military action in Afghanistan and crossing the border into Pakistan, and has echoed the Bush administration’s campaign of economic sanctions, diplomatic saber-rattling and military threats against Iran.In all practical analyses, Obama’s talk of “choosing unity over division” can easily be interpreted as a shrewd move to camouflage the true nature of a class-divided society. It is hard to imagine an honest and genuine unity of interests between the class of multimillionaires and billionaires, who increasingly monopolize the national wealth and income, and the vast majority who works for a living and struggle to make ends meet.But in the wake of so many strategic blunders by the Bush Administration on foreign policy matters, the dominant class clearly understands that America needs a new face. Obama’s rhetorical polish, lack of connection to previous administrations, and bi-racial origins seems to offer the perfect solution to America’s image overseas. “Obama in the White House would not represent any fundamental change in the direction of US foreign or domestic policy, but he would, it is believed, put a new face on US imperialism, sorely needed after the debacle of the Bush presidency,” affirmed Patriclk MartinAn Obama’s win in November is by no means an absolute certainty. Ten months is a long way off in electoral politic, especially under conditions of growing worldwide financial and political instability, which will produce many shocks within the United States. For now, there is no doubt that the Illinois senator is the undisputable frontrunner, and if he can win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, in Nevada on January 19 and South Carolina on January 26, his nomination would likely be unstoppable on Super Tuesday on February 5, when 19 states, including California and New York, hold presidential primaries. Although he is not running as a Black candidate, a president Barack Obama will definitely make history, for it will be the first time an African American will occupy the White House.
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