Example Of Significance Of Barack Obama Becoming The First Black President Research Paper
Since centuries ago, the United States of America has been beset with problems about slavery and racism, where Black people have always been considered beneath White people. It was inconceivable to see an African American win a national election, which has always been dominated by White politicians. Thus, with the entry of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race, some in the Black community celebrated and considered it already a cause for festivity, while a huge number of the Black population were skeptical about the candidacy primarily because of matters such as his last name, which did not sound anything like those common African or American last names and the fact that he grew up in Hawaii and partly, in Indonesia. However, Barack Obama’s victory has opened new avenues of opportunities and possibilities for America as a nation and for the world. Other nations now view America in a different light. Obama’s election is a combination of a rare blending of the candidate, the electorate, and the right circumstances rolled into one.
Barack Obama as Candidate
The fact that he was Black was not what propelled Obama to the American presidency. But it did not stop him either to become one, which veered away from the traditional results of the American presidential elections. While it may have come as a surprise for some considering that racism is still very much felt in America – in schools, in the subway, in supermarkets, at work, the fact that a colored person won in a predominantly White nation remains to baffle a majority of the population, even those who voted for Obama. Obama came from a mixed race background, with a Kenyan father and a White American mother. During one of his campaigns and debates with another presidential aspirant, John McCain, he introduced his white uncle, a war veteran, which could have helped some of the white electorate become comfortable with the idea of Obama as a presidential candidate.
Despite a mixed ethnicity, he has always been comfortable with his color and in fact embraced his identity as a black man. Prior to becoming a politician, he worked for a firm in Chicago fighting for social justice issues, married a beautiful and intelligent black woman, and attended a predominantly black church. In most of the major decisions about his life as a black man, Obama seemed to make the correct and most logical life choices. There were instances during his campaign period when he was “forced to manage the issue of race deftly and explain the unexplainable to a largely white electorate”. His was a good combination of personal history, personality, and intellectual background. Tall, dignified, intellectual, and determined, Obama was the right package. He had good diction and his grammar was impeccable. He was comfortable with being black, but he does not let it define him as an individual. He is very much aware about issues on racism and social injustices, but he rises above them, which is one of the reasons people are drawn towards him. His actions and winning the 44th seat as America’s president will always change the country’s views about what it means to be a black person.
The Voters’ Profile
If history has been good for Obama, then it can be said that the profile of the voters was also the right combination of voting public. The November 2008 Presidential elections saw transformations in American politics. Election maps have always shown consistency based on past presidential elections with the West Coast and the North East showing mostly blue, while the rest of the country is red, per the solidarity that the South show. However, the 2008 elections signaled a change in affinity as the once solid South was split. Virginia and North Carolina voted for Obama, despite him being black. These changes are primarily due to changing demographics of the voters. This may be attributed to the changing educational background of people who moved to the South from other parts of the country. Additionally, the population has become a more diverse one considering the different nationalities living in the area, including Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans. The South is also home to huge numbers of educated Americans and youths, who made up the voting population.
Among the population of black voters, 95% of them voted for Obama not because of his promises or propaganda, but because he represented justice and fairness. The people hoped and trusted that he would be a fair leader. As such, on Election Day, many of those who never even bothered to take part in an election in the past showed up to cast their vote.
The Meaning of Obama’s Victory
The November 2008 presidential win of a bi-racial Black man in the United States of America is historical. For the Black community, Obama’s win goes beyond the rivalry between the Democrats and the Republicans. Rather, it is a “blow against 400 years of Black slavery, legal segregation, and institutional racism” in a country that saw colored people as beneath them. It is a great symbol of changes in attitudes and how people see the Black people now. The change is greatly noticeable among the younger age group or those who were born after the triumph of the civil rights movement. Generally, they are not as racist as their parents or grandparents are.
In his speech, Obama said, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” It is an encouragement for all minorities of all colors in whatever field or profession to keep on believing and everything is possible. On his part, Sen. John McCain openly admired President-Elect Obama for “inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had so little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president.” As a whole, Obama’s victory is all about inspiration, change, hope, justice, perseverance, and opportunities. It is not only for the White American people, but for all races and ethnicities that make up the whole American population. It is a symbol for all those who believed that they could not make a difference or have very little influence in the election.
For the African-American population, Obama’s triumph was a peaceful revolution as the people spoke against tradition – choosing a newcomer over a war veteran, a bi-racial over a pure white American, a contemporary politician over a traditional one. Some even remarked that with the victory, telling anyone to pursue their goals and dreams will help them become and acquire what they want to be now rings a high degree of truth as success can be achieved regardless of creed, color, or belief if one works hard for it. For some, it is a sign of America’s continued thrust in renewing itself and beating all odds and expectations.
Difficulty of Minorities and Women to Enter Politics
Where Obama succeeded in politics, it is still a struggle for minorities and women to enter American politics. When it comes to funding, getting the party’s attention, and persuading voters to elect women in public office, the challenges are huge. And when it comes to black women, the problems are overstated and magnified. Nina Turner, an Ohio State Senator, shares that black women are often taken for granted and not considered as someone who could make a difference in their political parties. Even reports conducted by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers and Higher Heights Leadership Fund reveal that in 2014, out of the 318 statewide elected executive offices across America, 2 positions were held by Black women, which was equivalent to 0.6% of the total positions. In the same report, Black women represented “2.7% of all 74 women in statewide executive offices, 28.6% of all 7 women of color, and 25% of all 8 African-Americans holding statewide elected executive offices”.
Women and the minority have found it difficult to seek public office due to discrimination. For one, the culture of attitude towards women and the minority is that they should only stay at home and serve their families, thus, they are never thought of as people who can actually contribute ideas to the society in general. Women do not also have support of fellow women within parties because of the absence of causes for women. They do not also form a strong collective identity, which further makes it difficult to push themselves in the consciousness of the male-dominated political party. Additionally, the support for women is so low within the political party itself. Centralization of candidate selection is also a problem because political parties are only forced to choose one pall bearer to represent them during elections. Apart from all these reasons, minorities also suffer from issues on language because one of the reasons for not being chosen to represent the political party is language barrier despite having the knowledge and capacity to polish their knowledge of the American language.
Lessons from Obama’s Success
Considering that Obama, compared with his opponent Sen. John McCain, was a relative unknown who was just starting to build a name of his own, his rise to the presidency can be called a really successful feat. Declaring his presidential candidacy in 2007, more than a year short of the national presidential elections, Obama extensively used social media and the internet in order to reach out to more people. His staff took advantage of “both new and proven online technologies to organize volunteers, to find new supporters and put them to work, to turn out voters on Election Day and to raise unprecedented amounts of money.” The Obama staff was focused only on one outcome, that is, to come first and win 270 electoral votes. This belief never wavered all throughout the campaign period. They were guided by the thought that “if you win, you’re in. If you lose, you lose”. They studied the voter profile and determined that there are two types of undecided voters – the truly undecided and indifferent voters and the “persuadable” voters, who have formed strong opinions about the election but have not decided who to support yet. For them, these are the ones who could help swing election results, thus, they decided to focus on this latter group. They also learned early not to spend too much on TV campaigns and instead, took advantage of digital media, which was a far more inexpensive option but has a wider reach than TV. Thus, their campaign heavily relied on “email and digital channels to drive fund raising and issue awareness”, including Facebook and MySpace, where the staff created badges, buttons, and widgets that supporters could add on the page, online advertising, and political blogs.
In general, the whole Obama campaign was a well-thought out operation that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency. His charisma, education, intelligence, fresh ideas, and way with words, together with the people’s desire for change were the perfect circumstances at the right time. The American people wanted something different. Voters were ready to try a new approach on how the U.S. economy will be run and how to regain the nation’s declining world influence. As voters have been very open about their love for Oprah or Will Smith, and even Black singers and entertainers, Obama’s emergence in the political scene showed he was the right person running for the presidential race at the right time and with the right electorate.
Bird, Karen. “The Political Representation of Women and Ethnic Minorities in Established Democracies: A Framework for Comparative Research”, http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/pnorris/Acrobat/stm103%20articles/Karen%20Bird%20amidpaper.pdf
Cooperstein, David. “The Marketing Lesson from the Obama Campaign: Ask the Right Questions, Don’t Just Amass Data”, accessed March 3, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidcooperstein/2013/05/08/the-marketing-lesson-from-the-obama-campaign-ask-the-right-questions-dont-just-amass-data/
Delaney, Colin. “Learning from Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 and Beyond.”, accessed Mar 3, 2015, http://www.epolitics.com/learning-from-obama.pdf
Gray, Steven. “What Obama’s Election Really Means to Black America.” Accessed February 28, 2015, http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1857222-1,00.html
Henderson, Nia-Malika, “Report on Black Women and Politics Shows Challenges, Strides”, accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/06/20/report-on-black-women-and-politics-shows-challenges-strides/
History.com. “Barack Obama.” Accessed March 1, 2015. http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/barack-obama
MacAskill, Ewan, Goldenberg, Suzanne, & Schor, Elana, “Barack Obama to be America’s First Black President.” Accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/nov/05/uselections20084
Miah, Malik. “What Obama’s Victory Means About Race and Class.” Accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/2026
Stein, Sam, “President Obama: The Significance of the Moment”, accessed March 2, 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/05/the-significance-of-presi_n_141427.html
The New York Times. “Election Results.” Accessed March 1, 2015. http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/map.html?ref=politics