I’ve been watching the coverage of the Democratic National Convention. Yesterday when I watched Sen. Clinton nominate Sen. Obama for President I got a little misty eyed with emotion. He’s not my candidate and I won’t be voting for him in November. But to watch a black man get his parties nomination for President, well it hit me. Win or lose he will go down in history as will this election that saw a major party having a black man and a white women be their two front runners. I was so proud of my country, that we are coming closer to fulfilling that promise we make to our children. Anyone born here can become President.
As proud as I was, and still am, I’m increasingly uncomfortable with how Sen Obama has become more than a candidate to many. At the DNC a film was produced by Steven Spielberg. Sets built by the company that built the set for Britney Spears’ last tour. Hollywood celebrities in photo ops. A football stadium full of people in a rock concert like atmosphere. The accusation that Sen. Obama had become a rock star or God like figure grates on me but watching this theater I can understand why the comparisons were made.
Sen. Obama is no longer a political figure. He’s become mythical. A politician who’s no longer a law maker but a dream maker on par with the pop stars we see in news rags. It’s not about the politics, the change, or even the history. It’s become about the PR, the feeling.
As I watched the crowd dance to “Born in the USA” I wondered how many of these people were there to actually support the candidate and how many were there to see a legend.
What pokes at me when I hear the crowds, the interviews with excited young people, with the chants and the cheers is this. Legends always fall. Legends are human, with human flaws and with human emotions. And we Americans love nothing more than elevating public figures then ripping them apart again and again.
JFK was revered and now book after book is published outing all his affairs, drug use, illnesses, temper and marriage woes. Historians have even begun to assess his Presidency out of the prism of his charisma and in the sharp light of history to less than glowing reviews.
The problem is I like Sen. Obama. As a person I’ve only heard nice things said of him. The interviews I’ve seen, both from him and those who know him, show a warm, down to earth guy who really thinks we can do more. I don’t want him to run the crucible to be burned. I honestly wish these rabid, adoring fan boys and girls would go away and remove the almost cult like feeling surrounding him. I worry that if he wins the election he will be torn to pieces within his first two years in office when the inevitable wall of DC politics proves to be less breakable as he’d hoped.
I think the DNC is taking a calculated risk in perpetuating this star like atmosphere around him. It could very well drive off voters who don’t want their nation run by someone who won an election based partly on a popularity contest, much like that of the prom king and queen of our high school years. It could very well cement in the minds of many voters what the McCain camp is putting out in commercials and speeches, that Sen. Obama is a rock star, a pop star, a God like figure to many but that this is all he has to offer.