Change is in the air. The righteous wind that blew at the backs of President Elect Barack Obama and his supporters for the past two years has also sailed the Democratic Party to full control of both the House and Senate. Many still can not believe the momentous historical events that have propelled the Junior Senator from Illinois, who began as a community organizer in Chicago’s South Side, mainly because of the surreal circumstances that have surrounded his campaign.
Obama stood as a true Underdog at the beginning of the race against Senator, and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton. “The Clinton Machine”, as the massive support base for the Clintons’ is commonly referred to, has held an unmatched power in Washington for the past two decades, rallying supporters and unifying Democratic Party members in the media and the various branches of government across the United States. On top of this unwavering support stood a mountain of potential political capital, a run-away money train that could shell out staggering amounts of campaign finances to lobby representatives to a particular cause. When Hillary Clinton announced that she would run for office, few doubted that any other Democratic challenger had a even a remote chance against the seemingly unstoppable “power-base” that already existed in more than just the far corners of the Union: Southern Democrats, Hollywood & media elites, North-Eastern Super Liberals, and the The Beltway Power Circle, already numbering in the millions and they were donating money by the thousands. There was little hope for the Junior Senator from Illinois onthe cold February morning in which Obama announced his candidacy on the steps of the Old State Capitol building in Illinois.
Throughout the campaign, Obama’s lack of Executive experience was brought up countlessly, first, and most notably by Clinton. Her argument that she would be “ready from Day One” was eventually bested by Obama’s message of Change. When John McCain won the Republican nomination he immediately reminded voters of Obama’s inexperience. In fact, many of McCain’s “tactics” involved recycling Clinton’s most successful attacks on Obama, such as her infamous “3AM” ad, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s history with 60’s radical Bill Ayers, and Obama’s penchant for “healthy eating”.
Despite Obama’s lack of traditional Washington experience, many of his supporters found his views more appealing because he appeared to not be a part of the D.C. power circle. His message of bringing a change to the government was seen as more sincere and substantial specifically because his opponents were unable to paint him as just another D.C. Insider. What set him aside from his colleagues was his advocation of working from the ground up. Where Clinton and McCain wanted to change Washington from the inside-out, Obama advocated change from the outside-in. Obama made it clear that we were not just voting for him, we were making a decision to go to work, putting the pieces of a shattered nation and broken world back together for the betterment of society.
The increase of negative campaigning only served to bolster his credentials in the long run. While Hillary Clinton was busy trying to knock Obama’s credibility in the primaries, she only served to give him more when he stood fast and didn’t falter. When she introduced Jeremiah Wright in an attempt to highlight Obama as a typical activist in the vein of Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, Obama hit back with a resounding speech on the state of race relations in the U.S. Her plan to paint Obama as just another angry black man backfired, giving him the reputation of being calm and collected, a natural leader with a steady hand whose race served him more as an advantage than as a handicap.
Later, when Obama was pegged as “Pallin’ around with terrorists like William Ayers,” and being called an “arugula-eating-elitist”, it became clear that there was little anyone could do to stop Obama’s mammoth rise to Pop-Culture Icon. Instead of playing to solely to his base, Obama began to campaign in GOP states like Virgina and North Carolina. He even went on MTV and said, “brothers should pull up their pants…You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What’s wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear – I’m one of them” Despite this resounding fashion advice, it remains to be seen whether or not today’s youth will take his suggestion.
He is the New Blood for a generation of apathetic youth, the down trodden and the forgotten. A living symbol of hope to look to for insight and leadership. Now, as the world looks on with great anticipation, Obama is tasked with what is easily the toughest job in the modern world, leading a society out of its downward spiral and into a new age of hope and prosperity.