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Obama's Promising Hope

After eight years of an administration that was openly contemptuous of intellectual thought, it will be a welcome relief should Barack Obama -- a man who brings intellectual curiosity and a nuanced understanding of the world to the enormous global tasks awaiting the next occupant of the White House -- win the race for the U.S. presidency.

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In January 2008, when he was still considered a long-shot, Little India endorsed Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic Party primaries. Nine months later, the country stands on the cusp of an economic meltdown, which veteran investor Warren Buffet has eerily characterized as a potential "economic Pearl Harbor."

Choosing between Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has an enviable record of service to the Indian American community, was far harder than endorsing him over the Republican nominee Sen. John McCain. In fact, in the Indian American community the race is not even close. Little India's online poll has Sen. Obama besting Sen. McCain 4 to 1. And, as we report in this issue, an independent Pew survey found that Hindus, the religion to which an overwhelming majority of Indians belong, were five times as likely to identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans and broadly shared many of the hot-button social and cultural positions of the Democratic Party.

 
Sen. McCain has successfully peddled the myth of being a maverick and a reformer to a gullible media. To the extent that Sen. McCain represents any break from Pres. George Bush, arguably the worst president in U.S. history, he is even more aggressive in his international outlook, even more bellicose on the use of military force, and even more zealous about deregulation, which precipitated the current economic crisis. Most dangerously, in recent weeks, Sen. McCain has demonstrated an unsteady temperament, impetuousness and recklessness that the country can ill afford after eight years of a disastrous Bush presidency.

Like millions of others, we had originally been attracted to Sen. Obama by the historical character of his candidacy as the first minority nominee of a major political party and as the biracial child of a Kenyan immigrant father and a White mother from Kansas. But Obama has worn his multicultural identity with such ease, that the promise that Americans might transcend race in this election, already stands delivered.

The measure by which we endorse Obama today is as an able leader, one who has demonstrated a convincing grasp of politics and policy, a nuanced understanding of critical economic and international issues, and an appreciation of both the opportunities and the challenges of the 21st century. He represents the best hope for delivering on universal health care and social and economic justice, and, judging from his debate performances, diminishing partisan rancor and restoring civility in public life. Throughout this campaign, Obama has demonstrated a reassuring resolve and a cool disposition in the face of withering attacks from a frequently erratic, often mean-spirited and uncommonly dishonest adversary.

After eight years of an administration that was openly contemptuous of intellectual thought, it will be a welcome relief should Obama -- a man who brings intellectual curiosity and a nuanced understanding of the world to the enormous global tasks awaiting the next occupant of the White House -- win the race for the U.S. presidency.  

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Politics | Magazine | October 2008

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