Friday, October 24, 2008


It is happening. The sudden surge that started after Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech on August 28,2008 is rapidly becoming a raging storm that is about to hit land. Unless something dramatic happens in the 12 days left for elections, it will effortlessly lift and place Barack Obama in the White House on January 20, 2009.

Obama's inclusive call for change and hope has electrified not just Americans but people all over the world. The world has never experienced the rise of a black man to the pinnacle of power and glory in a predominantly white nation. As exciting and even cathartic this sudden, unexpected and spectacular development is, the strong undercurrent of racism may dampen the awesome scale of Obama's sweep across America, if one goes by the findings of the Associated Press-Yahoo News poll, according to which Obama will lose six percent votes on election day for being a black.

John McCain, a good man who would have probably made a good President in normal times, has run into a phenomenon for which he has no answer. That too at a terribly bad time for the Republicans, thanks to the economic mess for which Bush is getting more flak than is probably his due. McCain's energy, which surged after Sarah Palin energised his campaign with her persona rather than her abilities, seems to have deserted him, and he looks and talks like someone who has already lost. In all the three Presidential debates, he emerged second best, and was even overshadowed in the last one. Of late, all strategies of his campaign, including vicious personal attacks on Obama, have simply been rebounding after adding another coat of shine to the increasingly radiant, Teflon-coated Obama who is growing taller by the day.

Sarah Palin, her star looks notwithstanding, is proving to be a bigger liability with each passing day. The latest revelation that that the party has paid $150,000 for her wardrobe makeover is hurting the campaign. She never appeared to the right choice, even though her physical attributes created an initial interest explosion which some thought would translate into votes. That "gullible sheep effect" has worn off, the expensive wardrobe makeover notwithstanding. While many have criticised McCain for choosing her as his running mate, Salman Rushdie has gone to the extent of calling her "a bad joke" while Deepak Chopra believes that "she is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses."

In the face of all these unexpected developments, which have erupted in an almost pre-ordained synchronicity, in it is not surprising that McCain is already saying that he would not "feel sorry for himself" if he loses the race.

All the latest polls show Obama increasing his lead over McCain, the national average being 7.5 percent as on October 23, 2008. These polls do not fully reflect the dramatic swing that has taken place in favour of Obama during the last few weeks. To get a better idea of the extent of McCain's slide and Obama's surge, one has to look at the 2008 Presidential Election Winner prediction trading charts of both candidates.
See how McCain has vertically dropped off from a recent unimpressive high of 54 percent to 13 percent while Obama has correspondingly shot up like a rocket to 86.7 percent. It doesn’t get any bigger and more dramatic than this.

Obama is as global a citizen as an American can get. A Kenyan Muslim father, an Indonesian Muslim step father, a white mother, white maternal grand parents who played a key role in his upbringing, mixed race relatives, exposure to many faiths, a strong association with a black church and even a small idol of Hindu Monkey God Hanuman as a lucky charm. That is about as diverse a background as you will find anywhere. That is perhaps why Deepak Chopra says that Obama "knows himself deeply, sincerely, truly", and that with "such grounding in self awareness" he has developed "the ability to evolve personally and the flexibility to adapt quickly as the times demand."

Obama has clearly emerged as an honest man filled with positive energy, hope and an inclusive vision that one does not identify with 'normal' politicians. That is why when he says that people are "hungry" for "authenticity in politics", they believe him. That is why when he speaks of his vision of an America not "pockmarked by racism and fear or led by leaders born into privilege and coached into automaton", they listen to him. They instantly know, without consciously knowing, that this man is different. The more they see him, the better they know this, and the more they like him. In the midst of all the strife and hatred in the world, here is an unusual leader who genuinely speaks of hope and sounds good enough to deliver.

Yes there is a lot of talk that Obama is surging ahead due to the all round gloom that the US is experiencing economically. The virtual collapse of the financial system has become the prime election issue rather than security, the strong point of McCain based on his experience. Obama seems to have a better revival plan that strikes the right chords. All this is helping him surge ahead, no doubt.

But, the way the country is swinging towards this black man suggests that it is because more and more people are now seeing him as the "transformational figure" that Colin Powell recently called him when he stunned every one by endorsing him for President.

Voters are not being pushed towards Obama only because of the multiple failures of the Bush administration of which McCain is seen to be a continuation. Obama is pulling them towards himself with a sincerity, vision and magnetism that is not very different from that of Mahatma Gandhi, whose portrait adorns his office. It is mainly because of this that he is succeeding magnificently despite the handicap of his colour in a nation that is still not free of racial prejudice.

The wave of Obama is not confined to the shores of America. Thanks to the communication revolution, people all over the world are reacting and gushing in the same manner. The language that great and inspirational leaders speak is understood by and energises people across boundaries and ideologies. Obama has achieved that even before getting into the White House. His ascendancy increasingly seems to be shaped by destiny and will most likely have a profound and lasting impact on the whole world.

By now every one knows that the 'Barack' in Obama's name has nothing to do with a military barrack and that it is actually an African word that means 'blessed'. By now every one also knows that John McCain, a war veteran and once POW, has an abiding association with the barracks of the military variety. In many ways, this election is a fight between hope and hate, between the curse of mindless wars and the blessing of a new world order. And it seems that Barack has metaphorically succeeded in sending the policies that McCain promises to continue to pursue back to the barracks.
Readers may also read:
1. Obama and Biden Vs Osama bin Laden: coincidence?
2. From Obama to Laloo: a rude reality check
3. Obama and Jindal: Hanuman and the Monkey
4. Looking for India's Obama in Harvard!
5. Osama and Obama: Saul and Paul