John Kerry’s endorsement of Barack Obama for President must have shocked the Democratic Party establishment as much as it surprised me. Obama won in Iowa, and then came in a very close second, after pre-election polls had him running first. I listened to both Obama’s post election speeches, and frankly was amazed by his charismatic presence and eloquent oratory. He is certainly capable of moving people, and I would argue he is certainly qualified and capable of being President.
Obama promised something we all desire “change, hope, and unity.” This is the basis of his appeal, as well as his likeable personal qualities and his outsider status. He promised to bring a polarized America together, and to end all the squabbling and divisiveness. He says with conviction that we all need hope, and he is right in that. He wants to end inequality and the war in Iraq and bring American s together. We believe him. Could he do it? Is it really possible that he could be elected President in November 2008?
Many say that there are still too many racial barriers, deeply entrenched prejudices, that will inevitably prevent Obama from winning in a national Presidential contest. Maybe. Yet Obama’s remarkable popularity in both Iowa and New Hampshire has shocked nearly all media observers and election experts: he has a powerful message, and delivers it clearly and masterfully. Amazement extends to yours truly.
If Obama runs neck to neck with Hillary Clinton throughout the elections, could a joint ticket be formed with either candidate as VP? If Obama failed to win the nomination could this create embitterment and more claims of prejudice based upon race? And what about Hilary Clinton – could the same be said of claims of prejudice based upon her female gender? We cannot rule out the role of either of these prejudices in the final election. And as far as we know, another white Republican male like McCain or Huckabee could be President.
At this historical conjuncture, it is also amazing that we have a woman and an Afro-American leading the pact of Democratic candidates. Political friendships are shattering, new alliances within the Democratic Party are being formed. Women may indeed be tired of seeing the White House as a privileged “boys club.” Likewise, many African Americans would love to see a qualified black man as President. Obama to his credit has not emphasized race – it remains to be seen whether he can escape it. And could they protect him from the crazies?
Personally, I wish both of them had a stronger anti-war stance, and were more critical of the corporate establishment and the “war on terror.” I have not ruled out voting for either one, but see both of them as more compromised by the establishment than either Kucinich or Edwards. But neither can I imagine either Edwards of Kucinich, the two most progressive Democratic candidates, catching up.
Perhaps this is still premature, but I am now willing to wager that either Clinton or Obama will be the Democratic nominee. The next question is whether the Republicans can come up with a candidate that can beat either one. Finally, granted that either Clinton or Obama would be better than the Republicans, we must still ask what is going to be the strategy of the peace/progressive movement regarding the 2008 elections and the “war on terror.”