Obama by a Landslide
TIME magazine (May 19, 2008) analyzes the mistakes Hillary Clinton made in her quest for the democratic nomination. There are vague statements like “She misjudged the mood,” “She didn’t master the rules,” and so on. At best, this is Monday-morning quarterbacking. It would have been more relevant to identify why Barack Obama won the nomination (Hillary Clinton will undoubtedly concede in the next few days). There are many reasons: excellent grassroots organization, intelligent use of Web 2 technologies to spread the word, stirring speeches to inspire Americans, particularly the young. But one factor contributed to Obama’s nomination more than any other, and that was his opposition to the Iraq war when everyone, including Hillary Clinton and John McCain, competed to jump onto Bush’s bandwagon. He opposed the ‘rash war’ in Iraq in 2002 and never wavered in his judgment. This made him the candidate of substance that voters had been pining for, as opposed to candidates whose views were dictated by the shifting political wind.
There is an unfortunate tendency by pundits and Clinton loyalists to attribute Obama’s ascendancy to race. “Obama won the democratic nomination because blacks voted en masse for him,” has been the refrain heard from opposing camps. This is blatant racism. Nowhere is there any recognition that African-Americans voted for Obama because they decided that he was the better candidate on issues and policies. Nowhere is there any acknowledgment that if Hillary Clinton offered better choices and options for Americans, blacks would have voted for her. In fact, that’s how the campaign began, with blacks backing Hillary more than Obama. But as the campaign progressed, voters began to see that one candidate remained true to his principles, while the other resorted to race-baiting and polemics. A difficult choice it wasn’t.
I was surprised by the attitudes of my fellow Americans of sub-continent origin (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan). “Americans are not ready for a black president,” many of them insisted. On probing further, it became clear that what they meant was that they found the idea of a black president unacceptable. Probing further still, I came to the conclusion that this was due to a strange and curious combination of racism and narrow world-view. I don’t know about other states but certainly in California, many Americans who migrated from the Indian sub-continent are bitter that Hillary Clinton's chances of winning her party's nomination has dwindled to zero.
As for those Clinton loyalists who assert that they will not vote for Obama in November, I think the feeling will pass. The passions are still raw but six months offer enough time for reconciliation and closing of ranks. I have no doubt that once Obama formally wins the nomination, Hillary Clinton will urge her supporters to vote for him.
So what will happen in November, 2008? Here is my prediction: Barack Obama will defeat John McCain, increasingly seen as Bush III or the Son of Bush, by a landslide to become the 44th president of the United States of America.