Wednesday, November 05, 2008

21st century candidate secures a place in history

Barack Obama wrote to me last Friday - in fact he's been keeping up a pretty good correspondence for quite a few months now - him, Joe Biden, Michele, David Pouffle and other 'names' from the Obama ticket.

The messages have been well-written - straightforward; not at all complacent; a call to action with a personal touch - despite the fact that I'm just a faceless piece of data on a mailing list.

Yet, throughout this campaign I've felt connected to the candidate despite being an Irish citizen living in the UK, thousands of miles from the action.

Some time ago, I was attempting to fix up an interview with the former VP, Walter Mondale (it never happened!) and went through the Democeratic Party HQ to gain access to 'Fritz'. Obviously my email details were picked up at the time and I started receiving regular campaign updates. I could, of course, have unsubscribed, but it was interesting to see the issues emerge and the candidate's response to them - and indeed the stands he took and issues he generated himself.

Obama used the 21st century communication tools to full advantage. His messages were simple and elegantly packaged. He carried through the power of his oratory by judicious use of video to back the written word and his tones remained measured - indeed presidential - throughout. He offered plenty of opportunity for face-to-face contact; and even incentivised donation-giving and volunteer work with the kind of back stage pass access normally offered only by rock stars.

He seemed to 'get' the changing demographic of the nation far better than McCain - targetting those who usually didn't vote rather than merely attempting to change the minds of those whose partisan voting patterns were simply a lifetime's habit.

I went to bed last night in the hope that Obama would pull prevail, and woke, excited this morning knowing that he had. We may have an ocean between us, but the air of connection on this side of the Atlantic is palpable.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the US reconnects with the world. Since 9/11, Bush has appeared to be only an avenging bounty hunter, sometimes bully, sometimes isolationist, rarely statesmanlike in his foreign affairs dealings. I'm genuinely interested to see the Moslem world's reaction to a black President. I'm excited by the prospect of a new Secretary of State ready to enagage with the world on different terms from the Bush administration. I'm hopeful that the simple message of change will resonate through world economics and that Obama's arrival in the White House will signal the first flowers of economic recovery.

America will be a different place over the next four years and by its massive global impact, the world will be a different place too.

The President is only three years older than me. I'm excited that the time for my generation has arrived.

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