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My Fellow (Kenyan) American

Beverly Lwenya
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Barack Obama has 8 straight wins, on top of the wins on Super Tuesday. He has now won 23/35 states and has won every region.  He is not only the most viable African American candidate to ever vie for the presidency, but the most transcendent.

A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that the only thing that her little sister and all her friends talk about in school is Barack Obama. The bright 14 year old was continually asks her big sister how many super delegates there are and how many it takes to actually secure the nomination.  This is a little black girl in East Oakland.

I wish I could share with the world the sense of optimism that is in the balance for young people.  It’s all that my friends are talking about and all their friends and so on. When Bill Clinton came in to power in 1992 I hadn’t moved to the States, it wasn’t until his reelection in 1996 that I started paying attention to politics and decided that I was a Democrat.  Not unlike, my friends sister, I was a 13 year old who was witnessing an election with full awareness, for the first time.  But with defeats in 2000 and 2004 the only revelation for me and many of my cohorts, was that the Democratic Party became just as complicit in George Bush’s misadventures as their colleagues. Almost like trying to jumpstart a Ferrari, the youth vote first dipped our collective toe in the 2000 election to no avail.  Then, we pushed our anti-Bush desires on our man John Kerry, but as is now famously documented, the youth vote slept in.  Amazed that an election can be “stolen twice” many had their sites on just making it to 2008 and the end of our Bush-dominated voting careers.

So now in 2008, we are four years older again and there’s some new brothers and sisters under our wings, some of whom will turn 18 just before election day. Yet, progressives in the party are still few and far between on Capitol hill, (and we try not to mention the party defectors). But what is really in short supply, so much so, that we didn’t even realize is, was good old-fashioned inspiration.

The thing I like most about Barack Obama, is his ability to inspire, not "hope" but inspire. One of the best quotes I've heard in awhile is this: “people are not persuaded, but attracted”. If all you want from your leader is someone who can tout “experience”, then that’s where we part ways. I want someone who can lead and inspire people to be their better selves. Someone who will demand excellence and elevate discourse for the entire country.  That's the definition good leadership.  Is this Obama? Well, is it anyone else right now?

He is the smartest (he hasn't made too many gaffes), most organized (his campaign is almost flawless in grassroots organizing from ground up), most authentic (listen to his non-speeches) and most inspiring (carrying youth vote and new voters handily) candidate. If this is lost on you then you are not paying attention.  I believe it was Tim Russet on MSNBC who noted that if November does end up being an Obama V McCain election, it will be the widest gap in age between candidates in American presidential history. If there was a case to be made that this election was a grand entrance for eldest of the Generation Xers then this is it.  Meanwhile, us Millennials are Ferrari now at a yellow light “Waiting for the World to Change”. I don’t think we’ll be sleeping in this time.

1 comment

  • thanks for your commentary on the primaries so far. your political insight, though not a political blog, is more than welcome. it’s amazing how Obama has had such an effect on the youth – even more younger brother (who, unfortunately, will be only 16 in November) has gotten into the political blogoshpere in order to champion the cause of change. at first, when the political contest began to take root, i really did not care one way or the other who won, seeing that anyone would be better than Bush. however, i think that Barack has single-handedly created a situation in which many believe in America again. And let’s not forget, he’s an Afropolitan, whether he admits it or not. can u imagine the day when he becomes the leader of one of the most influential countries in the world. i think his election as president will even just be enough to improve american credibility abroad.
    and at the time of this posting, he has swept 10 contests. it seems like these victories are heavily underappreciated in the media. everyone thinks that hillary is doing something wrong. its not that, it is just that barack is the people’s choice – nothing more and nothing less. if hillary were in the position that barack were in now, i am sure that many in the democratic establishment would have long since called him to suspend his campaign. i’m hoping that with the ohio and texas primaries, she’ll finally get the message.


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