Friday, January 4, 2008

Obama, Iowa

Barack Obama won Iowa's Democratic caucuses. As Arianna Huffington has pointed out, Iowa is a state that is 92% white, and however cynical we may want to be about American presidential campaigns, or about Obama as a candidate or, hell, even Obama as a representative black American, it's got to be heartwarming to see his win as a sign of hope for America.

No non-white candidate has ever gotten this close to winning the presidential nomination in a major American political party. Obama won over not only the white voters of Iowa--but more Iowa women voted for Obama than for Hillary Clinton. Among women Democrats in Iowa, Barack had 5 points on Hillary, 12 points on John Edwards, who came in second.

If nothing else, as Huffington points out, Obama's win, along with the unprecedented turnouts for both Democratic and Republican caucuses, indicates a surge of interest among Americans in democracy and change.

I for one am a bit leery still of Obama, because of his pandering for anti-gay votes (presumably Southern black Christians) in South Carolina last year.

However, I don't think it was this aspect of Obama that won him Iowa; at least I hope not.

Perhaps he and the other candidates will see this victory as a sign of Americans' hunger for change, hope, and possibly redemption. (As may also be said of Mike Huckabee's win in the Republican caucuses--only with scarier implications--a dangerous shift more clearly towards a Christian theocracy.)

If so, perhaps the focus will shift away from an emphasis on candidates who simply fit the established mold for leadership: the avuncular and good-ol'-boy corporate CEO--and perhaps will widen to include consideration of character traits given too little attention in previous campaigns: idealism, difference, adventurousness, and guts.

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