In GARHI KHUDA BAKSH, Pakistan a place most Americans have never heard of, there were echos of similar desires. Thousands mourning the death of their aspiring leader chanted for justice; thousands called for peace; thousands more cried for the loss of what they considered their last chance for a decent level of democracy. While Benazir Bhutto had not even completely cleaned the exiled dust off her shoes -- exiled because of charges of inept government and skilled corruption -- she with all her taint -- represented something more powerful - The longing of hope.
It is that same longing for hope that has overtaken this country heading into the 2008 Presidential Primary Season. In the movie "Shawshank Repemption," a movie all about hope, the protagonist Andy tells his friend Red, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies."
It is that eternal life that Republican Presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee is hoping to cling to in his quest for the Oval Office. Like President Bill Clinton, he is from a small southern town called Hope, Arkansas. It seems so appropriate for a presidential storyline: A young man no one held any stock in, dreamed of becoming a Christian leader, overcomes odds and becomes governor and now about 100 lbs lighter is looking to overcome the odds once more and become President of the United States. In the composite polls former Mike Huckabee has all but surged past more experiences and savvy candidates to the point where he is leading in the key state of Iowa and is second in national polls. What does Huckabee say is the answer to his resurgence? "It's not just about making political decisions, but making good decisions for the people it affects."
Attaching himself to the impact politics has on people is a good bet. The country is clamoring for change and longing for a chance to grasp on to hope. According to a Summer CBS poll only a third of average income Americans are satisfied with their lives; Only 15 percent of those in the lower income brackets are satisfied and nearly half, 48 percent of Americans believe the future will be worst off for their kids. Yet, 8 out of 10 Americans believe there is still hope one can better their lives. Hope births oxymorons.
If Huckabee is riding the hope wave, Barack Obama is the one who's earthquake has created it. He has ridden the Hope-Train long before he declared for President. "The Audacity of Hope" [note: a recommended K.H. Book] and has become the cornerstone of his closing argument in Iowa:
"I know that hope has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made. In the face of tyranny, it’s what led a band of colonists to rise up against an Empire. In the face of slavery, it’s what fueled the resistance of the slave and the abolitionist, and what allowed a President to chart a treacherous course to ensure that the nation would not continue half slave and half free. In the face of war and Depression, it’s what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. In the face of oppression, it’s what led young men and women to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through the streets of Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause. That’s the power of hope – to imagine, and then work for, what had seemed impossible before."
For Mr. Obama, who is aligned to have as equal an opportunity to win the Iowa Caucus -- with a minority population less than 5 percent-- than any mainstream white candidate, hope is not just a desire but a powerful tool. In Obama's hope-world, it is what creates and demands and inspires change. Change the American people are desperately longing for these days.
It may be that place called hope that is now swinging black voters -- voters who once shied away from him -- back to his fold. It may be that place called hope that is now giving him wind beneath his campaign's wings to be on the verge of winning the tri-fecta of early primaries: Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
And what will happen then?
For those majority of voters who long for hope, the chance to elect Barack Obama President may be just as foolish as hoping the beans one trades his cow for actually is a better investment. It may be true that good things never die, but the Obama Hopefuls may have to instead pray that the place called hope does not become a mere ghost town.
Kapitol Hill provides unique commentary on significant issues and events. Please feel free to leave a comment and return for the next installment.