After spending last year studying in New York, I am more interested in US politics than ever before. I watched debates and interviews, particularly with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fighting it out.
From the start I felt a strong affiliation with Obama. As a white British male in my 20s, the only obvious trait we have in common is our gender, so why do I feel like he spoke to my sensibility so much?
The first American president I recall is Bill Clinton and the last can be summed up with one mispronounced letter: W. Unfortunately, my memory of US politics has been about everything but US politics — as sex scandals and blatant incompetencies have taken centre stage. Watching Obama give speeches and rally support, I felt a difference. Could it be that a politician was actually speaking the truth and wanted more for humanity? You can even see from his online presence that this time the issues were the key factor in his campaign. Equal human rights for all; quality education for all; and sound economic policy, where Wall Street fat-cats and oil conglomerates are no longer the kings of the food chain. His speaks to me and he speaks for all of us.
More than ever before in US presidential politics, Barack Obama used all media options, including social networking sites to connect individuals, personal fundraising pages to empower the average US citizen to get involved and databases of undecided voters, to aid supporters in their quest to create a new America and a better world. These are the tools that make (American) dreams possible, which I would like to see the UK use to transform itself. As Obama said, this is not a victory for him; it is a victory for the people.
From beginning to end, Obama’s direct, focused and heartfelt appeal has given me a new respect for the United States and its people. 20 January 2009 – six days after my 21st birthday – two reasons to celebrate.