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La Jornada – Mexico City


La Jornada, Mexico


Barack Obama and Change


By Luis Linares Zapata /II


February 13, 2008


Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)


For the real change that Barack Obama promises to initiate in the U.S. to be able to occur, he assumes that an indispensable condition is that it be pushed upwards from the bottom. You cannot expect, he claims, that a political, social and cultural transformation of the magnitude and depth that he proffers to secure will be originated by the leaders who are entrenched in Washington or who are from other elite financial or industrial sectors. The movement that will make it possible demands, therefore, the decided participation of a broad layer of citizens. And under this premise, he has initiated the most attractive electoral phenomenon in the recent history of the US. 


The movement provoked by the charismatic Democrat candidate can be noticed all over the country –in the cold states of the North, in the well-educated Northeast; in the deep South with its black populations; in the traditional mid-West with its white majorities, and in the Northwest with its people who work in cutting-edge industrial companies, all of which have supported the rarely offering of Obama and his ambition to lead the envisioned crusade.


He is not only an eloquent Congressman who hypnotizes his audiences with his ideas, scenic presentations and his word fluency.   He isn’t an adventurous dreamer who ignores the enormous hurdles he is proposing to his fellow citizens. He knows that in order to promote change, he has to imagine the ambitioned goal and afterwards to fight for its materialization. He has arduously worked as a field activist, facing multiple hard obstacles. The most problematic poor neighborhoods in his state (Illinois) saw him for many years with brave intelligent tenacity looking for people who were lost, to help them recover their destiny.


Barak Obama, as a young senator, has refused with honest and clear cut conviction to deal with the lobbies that crowd with their attractive offers the offices and even the bank accounts of the legislators who are interested in the projects that such agents promote. A rather rare thing in a medium of consolidated mutual interests that generally affects negatively the population they claim to defend. Obama has applied the same level of transparency to the financing of his campaign, which is ironically the best funded of all. Still better than that of his Democrat rival, also senator Hilary B. Clinton, who early in her endeavor was able to amass enormous financial resources, a situation clearly explainable as being due in no small part to the activism of her husband (Bill Clinton), who is well acquainted with and uses all the Executive Power resources he came to experience in the eight long years of economic boom. In spite of this, Hillary had to lend herself the non too small sum of $5 million to keep her promotional campaign.


The differences between the two Democrat opponents are clearly noticeable. She can move with agility and fluidity among the heads of established power. She is among her peers. She masters the best known circles of important decision-makers.  She has the best direct experience of the behind-the-curtains maneuvers that influence any presidency. She lived them herself with mixed results while she lived in the White House.  She masters as few people do the details of the programs she has been advancing as the objectives of her presidential aspirations. She can effortlessly and elegantly expose the most intricate details of her plan for universal social security and health, a plan which caused her so much grief when her husband put her in charge of proposing it as the nucleus of his offering in his first years of government. She runs an ideological and programatic center that may not offend the conservative attitudes of millions of her potential voters. Her basic support, in this stage at least, comes from the lower and less educated middle class, as well as from mature white women.


Barack, on the other hand, is an inspiring politician. His attention is focused primarily on the lower-level people. He is sincerely welcome by the youth, Afro Americans and the educated higher middle class. He is being promoted by people from various extractions, who each time in larger and more enthusiastic numbers respond to his appeals.  Obama always appeals to his voters, to the citizenry in general who are in need of help, and with whom he establishes strong ties. He has defended with unusual courage difficult positions, especially in certain delicate and even menacing moments, such as with his dead opposition to a preventative Iraq war, even against the manipulated winds from September 11 in New York. He introduced the first initiative to regulate some aspects of the nuclear industry, a sector left untouched until a short time ago. In short, he has been a daring legislator, with an ethic and far-sighted vision.


Obama aims at modifying deeply the ways, habits and privileges of the politicians in Washington, and to destroy the knots that block or detrimentally affect the public programs. His priorities are socially oriented, including everyone and not leaving out, as is happening now, a great proportion of Americans from important benefits.  But, above all, he has succeeded in imbuing people with the feeling that a profound change is unavoidable for the future of the country. He wants to transform not only politics, to make it a decent and responsible activity, but to change society itself to make it fairer, less excluding, and more unified.


The possibility that a colored man will become the Democratic candidate, against all initial predictions, is growing as his movement gains impetus. Last Tuesday’s primaries show unequivocally his robustness. Despair is creeping into the opposing field. Everything signals an unsteady Hilary who has lost her way and even her composure to the point of changing her strategist. The coming Super Tuesday 2 will be the definitive confrontation, when states with numerous delegates participate.  If Barack wins thereafter the presidency of the United States, he will be the first leftist politician in that country and another signal of the present and future times in this continent.