Thursday, February 21, 2008

Barack Obama: Bridge to the 21st Century?

Earlier posts have explored why Hillary Clinton's supporters think she matters. Why then does Barack Obama matter to his ballooning band of followers.

Andrew Sullivan presented a detailed case for why Barack is the candidate for the times last December. Move over baby boomers, time to overthrow the old paradigms. Obama offers transformation, generational change, and potential re-branding of the United States. His is a fresh "face", post Vietnam politics, post civil right politics, post ideological polarisation American style. Post the politics of the past. On war, on religion and on race he will be a uniting force. He will bring a truce to the culture civil wars.

Sullivan argued that:

he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us.

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.
Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters (The Atlantic.com December 2007)

Strong rhetoric but it was supported by a detailed examination of Obama's positions on the war, on race and on religion. It is an argument which is clearly winning in progressive American politics. It's a substantial case for change. Let's hope it will have real substance in practice.

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