Thursday, February 07, 2008


Can Obama Lead a Historic Shift in US Politics?

I tend to agree with Michael Tomasky that 'there's been no contest like it. Not since never'. He argues that the already campaign hackneyed word, 'change' is code for the US considering whether 'to give liberalism another chance'. He takes us back to the mid sixties where he locates liberalism's high water mark. From then on liberals warred among themselves and handed the game during the 70s and 80s to the right-wing think tanks, media outlets and interest groups.

The Reagan years provided a new high water mark for conservatism the momentum of which survived the Clinton interlude but Bush, with his war and myopia over New Orleans, has finally squandered his capital. The question now is: are we at another turning point? Is the USA, appalled at electing and then re-electing George Jnr, about to embark on a new centre-left experiment? This is the underlying theme of key importance to America, the world and, of course, to us in the UK. A victory by the Democrats would reassure Labour that their string had not quite run out, while a victory for McCain would put a spring into Conservative steps for the upcoming election in 2009-10.

So how does the contest look after Super Tuesday? McCain seems a shoo-in after narrowly surviving political death six months ago. Hillary narrowly won the delegates tally(818-730) but Obama won more states. My fear is that the USA is still not ready to elect a black man, but my hope is that it just might be ready to elect a woman. A related fear is that Obama is not yet ready himself to be president but this fear is ebbing as I begin to share some of the hope his candidature represents. I'm not sure Obama can beat McCain but I feel fairly sure now that he can beat Clinton.

His appeal now extends beyond the limits of his own black constituency and threatens to overwhelm Hillary in the remaining contests leading up to the convention in August. Super Tuesday resulted in a dead heat, but only because it interrupted Obama's relentless rise. He is the candidate with the momentum, the novel appeal and, we now learn, the money.

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