We need someone like Barack Obama by Carlo Osi

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OPINION

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Philadelpia, PA – When you are abroad and you take a look at Philippine newspapers online, there is an incessant feeling of despair and surrender. Killings and violence are heavily reported, desperate acts by some people, politicians tearing each other apart, and scandal upon scandal rocking Manila.



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You clearly see that people are angry, agitated, frustrated and disempowered. And one of them is you, the Overseas Filipino.


You feel that you are an outsider looking into the mess called Manila. Thankfully, you are out of it. But then again, you wonder, what would it have been like if you were, as millions of others, caught up in the scandal storm there.


Many people, including your relatives, surely want to get out of the country and seek a "better life platform." But leaving is not always a tangible option and has many considerations. People like you also want to replace the leadership but that isn’t pragmatic since constitutional succession will bring us back to post-2001 – or even worse.


On the contrary, what is happening in the United States is simply miraculous. It’s quite envious as to why it’s not happening to our own nation. No, it’s not about the economic recession, job loss, or the lack of health insurance of 46 million Americans. It’s about the sweeping and galvanizing call for change initiated by Democrat frontrunner Barack Obama.


Not only is his call pushing erstwhile dormant voters into the polling booths, he is also inspiring people who aren’t even Americans and who are not physically located within the 50 U.S. states. Do we, in our midst, have someone like him?


New politics


Despite the imperfection of the U.S. political system, Barack Obama is trying to unite the people with his call for true change. Born of an African father and Caucasian mother, schooled in part in Indonesia, trained in law at Harvard, and served as a community organizer in downtown Chicago, he may likely be the 44th President of the United States of America. Charismatic, articulate and unwilling to directly engage in negative campaign, he has captured the soul of much of America despite having served only two years in the US Senate.


Obama is young and energetic. Youth is a factor in his candidacy, something Republican John McCain has none of.


Another quality of Obama is his being highly educated, finishing Law at Harvard. This quality, if applied back home, eliminates on our list presidential aspirants who have no significant educational background, those who never finished college, and don’t therefore have the requisite academic knowledge to run a country.


Sadly, Joseph Estrada was once our president and Fernando Poe, Jr. almost followed in his footsteps, yet both of them barely finished anything academically. The cold truth is, unschooled movie actors or teleprompter readers don’t deserve to run the country.


Obama has no or little ties with big business. This is a fascinating hallmark of his campaign, which is why he can easily attack the formidable marriage between government, business interest, oil agenda and the Iraq war. Many of our politicians are attached to or personally run big businesses, among them business conglomerates in food, real estate fiefs, and old money.


Not an agent of continuity


Obama has little ties with the present government of President George W. Bush, hence his freedom to criticize it at will. In our case, how can a young former senatorial candidate who lost in the last elections and who is too close to the current Philippine president be able to effectively criticize those who literally feed him? He can’t be an agent of change as he is in a John McCain-like position, a heavily compromised spot. He’s an agent of continuity – something the Philippines doesn’t need as of now.


Obama runs the campaign as himself; he doesn’t use the popularity of his spouse and the endorsements of movie stars are just incidental. Hillary Clinton, a very decent leader, has unfortunately been using ex-President Bill Clinton to actively campaign for her and act as spokesman.


Bill Clinton has even chastised Obama several times that eventually backfired big time. Philippine politicians tend to use actors to be their spokespersons, using the latter’s mass popularity to entice voters.


Obama is not a member of any political dynasty. Very unfortunate in our system is political nepotism. After three Congressional or local terms, the wife or the eldest child runs in lieu of the father. After a term or two, the father re-runs and reclaims his seat. But this happens, too, in the United States with one author stating, "It is perhaps not very surprising that so many children of politicians go into politics. After all, it's daddy's business." If Hillary Clinton wins, then the US Presidential setting from 1988 to 2012 (at the very least) would be Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton.


Not heroes, just good leaders


Obama is not running because of his name. In fact, his name is distracting, if not a disadvantage. It sounds very near Osama, America’s notorious public enemy. Many of our politicians run and win because simple name recall. Their father was a national hero or former Senator, a sibling or parent is a Senator (brother-sister or mother-son), was once a TV or movie personality, a host of a TV outdoor sports show, or a one-time military agitator who campaigned from his prison cell.


Obama represents Real Change. Now this is something highly debatable. In the United States, many claim to be representatives of change. In the Philippines, change is a word often used in elections but almost never implemented in political practice.


In essence, where is our future presidential candidate who has the qualities of Barack Obama and personifies a genuine concern about the dismal and downward-spiraling image of the Philippines?


The country doesn’t need more heroes. We just need straight, honest, visionary political leaders. As a nation, we always believed in hope. Surely, there’s somebody out there who’d salvage the drowning image of the nation and the vulnerability of its people.

The author is a Master of Laws candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School concurrently undergoing a cross-disciplinary program at the Wharton School. Send comments to carlo.osi@gmail.com or through http://eastofturtleisland.blogspot.com.

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