Caribbean: Obama in Iowa

This post was originally written by Janine Mendes-Franco for Global Voices Online:

Senator Barack Obama‘s astounding success in Iowa – the first of the caucuses that will ultimately result in the victorious nominee from each of the two main political parties going on to contest the 2008 US presidential election – has struck a chord with many Caribbean bloggers.

Barack Obama on a visit to New York in June 2007. Photo by kiskeyacity

Posts range from the coverage of a full-blown endorsement of Obama by the US Virgin Islands Governor, to hopeful questions about whether history could actually be unfolding before our eyes. Some bloggers think he's the perfect candidate for the next US president, others aren't so sure, but there's no doubt that the Senator for Illinois is giving the Caribbean blogosphere something to talk about…

Haitian-born blogger kiskeácity “captured some inspiring moments” at the Iowa Caucus Party in Downtown Manhattan, making her earlier post that much more pertinent.

But Further Thoughts wonders “how much of this is real”:

A month ago, people seemed to be saying that yes, Obama will win in Iowa, but it doesn’t matter all that much.

But then Obama won in Iowa, and the narrative changed. The latest polls suggest that real change is afoot. Obama is surging in New Hampshire and nationally. But how solid is this? Have people made up their minds, or are they just saying what the press tells them they should be thinking?

Liza Sabater, Puerto Rican by birth, mixed race by ethnicity, views Obama as the perfect example of “the audacity of biracial hope”:

Recognizing how ingrained racism and prejudice is the culture at-large and the psyche within, is the most important first step for any liberal hoping to discuss and understand the audacity of Barack Obama's hope.

Barack Obama comes from a world in which he has not just seen but lived the good and bad of both ends of the color spectrum. There is no need to defend one over the other because he knows how similarly good and similarly bad people can be. He understand social economic catastrophes are not predetermined by a person's race but are wrought by government policies that exploit the politically disenfranchised and the economically weak.

In other words, he understands that race is just one part of the political equation.

Meanwhile, Signifyin’ Guyana poses the question:

Do you think he will win the whole thing? Why? Why not? Does he need black voters to carry him through?

Blogging from Trinidad and Tobago, Club Soda and Salt is not convinced:

“They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose,” Mr. Obama said.

Well, this “common purpose” sounds nice, but what is it? I honestly have no idea, and I feel like the Obama campaign hasn’t really ever defined it. This nicely captures the “something missing” that is part of why I can’t actively back Obama over the other Dems.

I’m fine with him getting the nomination, and I’d love to see him be president, but this is part of why the Obama campaign has let me down a little.

In contrast, blogger Jeremy Taylor chalks one up for Obama:

If it gives America the sense that this guy might actually be electable, then Iowa will have done the world a service. The president of the US is pretty much the president of the world, so America's choice next November is of more than passing interest to the planet.

…The rest of the world desperately needs an American president with some common sense. Someone who can stop this lunatic war in Iraq and fight “terrorism” without creating ten new terrorists for each one taken down. Someone who wouldn't rush to applaud Mwai Kabaki for winning a rigged election in Kenya. Someone who is not afraid of the Israelis and thus can lean on them and produce a settlement in Palestine. Someone who will dismantle the crazy 45-year confrontation with Cuba. Someone who doesn't wear cowboy hats.

For, it comes down to a simple issue of technological savvy:

Obama is the candidate who understands that the Internet is not just a technology, not just a new industry, but a fundamental change to the nature of public discourse, and like any other form of free speech, it needs to be encouraged and protected from vested interests who would seek to control it to their own ends.

Linking to Obama's blog post in The Daily Kos, Liza Sabater writes:

This may be, by the way, the post that alienated the Obama campaign from not just the netroots crowd but the whole progressive blogosphere.

Obama is not out to get the enemy. He is out to build bridges, heal old wounds. Barack's campaign is all about bringing all peoples into the democratic process by putting politics back on the kitchen table by calling it Hope.

No matter the race or ethnicity.

No matter the religion or political ideology.

Jeremy Taylor echoes her sentiment…sort of:

Obama? He sounds as if he's so wonderful that he'll be all things to all men and all women. You look at him and wonder, can he really make it? If he does, could he sustain it? In Washington, would he be a pushover, would he get fat and pompous, would he be allowed to implement any liberal ideas? How long would it take the wolves to tear him to bits?

But if you want change, Obama — so far — seems the one who's up for it. The best of a dubious lot.

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