This is long overdue. I wanted to write about it sometime back. And I couldn’t write it when I wanted to write. Now I start without the required homework. It is all about my personal experience as a Barack Obama fan.
I rarely had heroes or role models in life, although I liked a few persons and at times thought if I could be one like them. But as I move on I forget that. Sometime later I would say “Oh, I had once shosen this man as my hero”.
So many people had inspired me for their character, style, commitment, integrity and achievement. I am a fan of Brazilian soccer, I am a fan of Kajol. I like everyone in Brazilian football team, especially Ronaldinjo with his cheerfulness, brilliance and swiftness. I think Robinjo has taken over his place in my favourite list. Whenever I watch Kajol with her curly hair and bright eyes on screen I become so happy.
I admire Rahul Dravid and Viswanathan Anand for their calm and genteel nature. I like Manmohan Singh for his scholarship, humility and integrity. I like Sonia Gandhi for her selfpossessedness, cordiality and concern for poor.
I consider Rajendra Singh as the most successful man as he greened up a perennially drought-striken Rajasthan village through water harvesting techniques. I adore Arundhati Roy for her eloquence.
But when I started following democratic presidential primaries, I never had the faintest idea that I would eventually become an addict to US election news. And someone would so powerfully attract me to the halo of his personality.
It did happen. When I first read Obama won the Iowa caucus, I was happy seeing that a political underdog had an upset win over larger-than-life opponent. It was my natural emotional association with underdogs in general.
Still I refused to believe that this would herald the historic emergence of a possible black president. I just thought “The guy would put up the best fight, so much the better”.
Needless to say, it was Barack’s upset victory in the first caucus that made me track the American presidential election with greater interest than ever before. Earlier, when Barack Obama announced his candidacy, I took it as a tokenistic bid by an ambitious Black politician. I just took it as a clever guy’s shortcut to fame as an opponent to Hillary Clinton who is all the way to winning democratic nomination and presidency.
Yes, things excite you when it exceeds your expectations. That happened with Barack Obama. With the few initial primary victories I realised that Obama winning the democratic nomination is no longer a wishful thinking but a realistic possibility.
What followed was my complete absorption in the democratic fight for nomination in the subsequent weeks upto June 7, when Hillary Clinton finally accepted defeat. The reports of Obama victories on the pages of Indian Express and political theatre of ET made my days brighter, Clinton victories caused heart aches.
Why I liked him was not merely because of his eventual emergence as a winnable candidate. Yes, his black underdog image was perhaps something very easy to identify with. Other than that, I subscribed to the belief that he is an epitome of the change that we can believe in as his campaign has effectively sent across.
He comes across as the perfect antithesis of war-mongering George W Bush. He belongs to the level-headed, cerebral democrats like Al Gore and John Kerry. Much before the presidential election he opposed American invasion in Iraq and demanded withdrawal of troops from there, much like the most of American youth. Remember, cutting across party lines prominent politicians in the US supported the war.
He belongs to the rare breed of politicians who brought environment and global warming into the campaign agenda. He withstood with elegance the attempts to make presidential battle an ugly racist war. He inspired us with profound expressions, thoughts and words. He exhumes confidence, cheerfulness and receptiveness. He is young, lean, tall, sporty and handsome. Most of all, his was a compelling story. I joined millions of Obama fans across the world.
I was never tired of reading anything related to US election. When I come to office I would gleefully turn to net to know the latest turns and twists of the long drawn out presidential battle. I was enjoying the sportive spirit of that fight and glad that I got something serious to engage with.
In certain ways this addiction had a narcotising effect and it was a diversionary tactic, a wonderful getaway from mundaneness of job, much like my father’s escape to drinks and gambling. Yet it had its advantages too. The most notable advantage would be perhaps my initiation into reading the web editions of New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
I shared with others my passion for Barack Obama. I even got my self registered as supporter of Obama for Change campaign through net. I kept getting mails from his campaign.
I deliberately brought US election into discussion with my colleagues just to gauge if others are feeling equal measure of passion, just as I am. Going through his campaign website, I was excited to find out that his political position has something to do with automobile industry, which happens to be my beat.
He went to Detroit and asked automobile manufacturers to stop making gas guzzlers and promised support for making green cars. This further attached me to Barack. When I was in company with six US journalists at the Reuters training programme in April our topic of discussion was this Obama phenomenon.
It was quite heartening to see that they are all invariably white, still supporting Barack. Mike Riley, who I met first at the training course, was a political reporter with Denver Post who was looking forward to cover Democratic National Convention in August.
I shared my admiration for Obama’s position on gas guzzlers with Sharon Carty, the Detroit-based automobile correspondent of USA Today. She later sent me the link of a detailed report on US automobile industry and presidential battle, saying “saw this story today and thought of you”.
A few weeks later, during our chat CEO of a company gave me a different reason why Obama would be a success – “future belongs to mix”. Himself half-German and half-US, he said smilingly “I am a mix”. By the time, it became a habit for me to bring Obama into conversation wherever I go.
The other day I went to attend a lecture on US presidential election by journalist-turned professor Robert W Jenson titled "The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election: Change is in the Air, but Not on the Ground". Although he argues that Barack is mostly rhetoric, he too says that he would vote for Obama in November.
One group which excited me with great cheer for Obama was none else but children of my own place, a far distant interior village from the fast moving cities were global politics is hotly debated. When I went home last month I was called to talk to students of my former school with which I still keep an active emotional bondage.
When I asked who you support in the US presidential election the boys in one voice loudly said “Barack Obama”. I was surprised to see the enthusiasm in their eyes.
Fifteen years ago when I was an eightth standard student I was not aware who all were contesting in the US presidential election. Bill Clinton was twice elected as US president when I was a school boy, I still don’t know who his opponents were. My little brothers are fast catching up with what happens around the world. I asked them why they like him. The answer was simple and plain, “He is the first black to contest for American Presidency”. It summed up the fact that the resilient and successful underdog appealed to the young generation of my fellow natives.
Barack Obama, who gave up plum jobs in corporate law firms to become a civil rights lawyer and community organiser in the impoverished south side of Chicago was an interesting story to share with them.
My laziness and procrastination cause a long delay in pinning up an Obama poster in my cubicle. That too is a long overdue.