Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Obama on the Cover of The New Republic
I really think this race is Barack’s to lose. He has really captured the public fascination and the new Tribune poll loudly echoes that this is true. Obama holds a 22% point lead over Ryan-52 percent to 30 percent. The question for this fall will be whether once the Ryan negative attacks start if Obama’s campaign decides to just hold onto the win or roll the dice and go visionary in search of a mandate. I’m eagerly looking forward to the latter.
Integral to Obama's success are the factors he cites in his speech: his unusual racial and cultural background. Whereas many working-class voters are wary of African American candidates, whom they think will promote black interests at the expense of their own, they simply don't see Obama in these terms. This allows him to appeal to white voters on traditional Democratic issues like jobs, health care, and education--just like a white candidate would.
The sad fact is that there is no single truly prominent black elected official in the country today, a situation that marginalizes African American voices on everything from education to foreign policy, and creates a vacuum that charlatans like Al Sharpton can exploit for their own gain. Were Obama to win in November, he would instantly become the de facto political leader of the country's African American community. Better still, his intelligence, savvy, and sheer force of personality would quickly make him an important player on Capitol Hill. From his perch in the Senate, he's likely to become a perennial possibility for a spot on a national Democratic ticket. Which is to say, while it's a shame there aren't more candidates like Barack Obama, for the moment, one may be enough.