Saturday, February 16, 2008

Deja Vu?

My first peek at US presidential elections was through "Wonder Years". Like so many other things, it portrayed the everyday America life through the eyes of teenagers. A lot was happening in 70's America, and the keen interest I developed for that exciting period of this countries history may began from those daily half an hour time spent with ever adorable Kevin and Winnie.

Coming back to politics, this episode portrays how a super enthused and motivated Winnie joins the campaign stuff of George McGovern's 1972 presidential bid. He was in many ways like Barack Obama of today - hugely motivating, big appeal among the younger crowd and definitely the anti-establishment democrat. He was anti war and wanted troops to be withdrew from Vietnam. He lost a few primaries, including Florida (which then counted!), but picked up enough delegates to win the nomination at the convention. Sounds eerily similar?

I hope not. In November, against Nixon, at that time he suffered the second worst defeat in history. He won only Massachusetts and D.C, losing even in his home state South Dakota. While I strongly believe that in this day and age, the same fate would not befall on Obama, I am slightly worried about his cult like status now. A win would be a win, and great for the country, whichever way it is achieved, as long as it is fair. But I do not trust the republicans would play a fair game, and my respect for the Senator from Arizona is getting less by the day.

That night, after McGovern lost, Winnie and Kevin realized that life is bigger than an election and all the behind the scene activities we don't know about. On a November night, nine months from now, when all the votes would be counted - no matter who wins, we would learn that all over again.

Until then, Go Obama.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Quick Thoughts!

Not a perfect night - would have liked closer races in NY/NJ/CA and not a blowout loss in MA. But winning 13 out of 21 states, with NM so close, does help the campaign in the long run.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Baez for Barack!

Joan Baez came out in support for Barack Obama this weekend. Here is her letter to the editor in San Francisco Chronicle.

Leader on a new journey

Editor - I have attempted throughout my life to give a voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the discouraged, and options to the cynical and complacent. From Northern Ireland to Sarajevo to Latin America, I have sung and marched, engaged in civil disobedience, visited war zones, and broken bread with those who had little bread to break.

Through all those years, I chose not to engage in party politics. Though I was asked many times to endorse candidates at every level, I was never comfortable doing so. At this time, however, changing that posture feels like the responsible thing to do. If anyone can navigate the contaminated waters of Washington, lift up the poor, and appeal to the rich to share their wealth, it is Sen. Barack Obama. If anyone can bring light to the darkened corners of this nation and restore our positive influence in world affairs, it is Barack Obama. If anyone can begin the process of healing and bring unity to a country that has been divided for too long, it is Barack Obama. It is time to begin a new journey.


Menlo Park

I love my favourite singer even more.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My endorsement for Barack Obama

I resisted the temptation of writing this post for a while. I was cynical, like most Americans, if Barack Obama can even stand a chance of being the president. The conventional wisdom said no way. His Iowa win was followed by losses in New Hampshire and Nevada. She had huge leads in opinion polls in most states - 25 percentage points, 30 percentage points or more. She was virtually assured to win the biggest states.

I am following politics for a long time - the dramatic rise of BJP in Indian political scene, the night of 6th December 1992 - which changed the politics in India forever, the remarkable speeches by Vajpayee and much more. Never ever I have seen such an inspirational leader like Obama, nor I have seen such an amazing outflow of support in such a short time for one person.

State after state, the leads for Hillary are shrinking. The states where Obama had no chance would all come into play this Tuesday and after. Opinions polls do not mean that much just by themselves - but when viewed along with the spontaneous endorsements by established democratic leaders and popular unions and big newspapers across the country - it is impossible to ignore the momentum Obama would still not win all the states - but he would be more competitive in New York than Hillary would be in Illinois and leave with a huge chunk of delegates from California. That says a lot. It is not everyday that registered republicans come out in the support of a liberal democrat.

Watching his speeches almost brings tears to the eyes. I always liked motivational leaders, mavericks, who think out of the box and have the courage to follow that up. We saw Martin Luther King only in youtube and read about John F Kennedy in history books. Somehow, in some way, Obama is a leader in the same spirit. History will judge how much he would succeed. But this is very clear - this is an incredible moment in history - whether Barack gets the nomination or not - he had a made millions a believer in politics again - which happens so rarely.

And incredibly, this is personal too. I know I would never be a politician, would never run for a public office. However, from the day I read in the history books that only someone born in United States can be a president, I always felt proud that one day I can run for that position. Of course I knew I would never. But when I see a non-white guy, with a funny name, whose father immigrated from Kenya, and having no political background, running from president, something tells me inside that achieving something and dreaming about it in this country may not be so improbable after all.