The Obama Era: A New Age in American Politics

The Obama Era: A New Age in American Politics

The Huffington Post

Brandon Hill
Stanford University

Barack Obama’s elections—both 2008 and 2012—have inaugurated a new political reality in America. He has rewritten history in two consecutive elections, and his groundbreaking victories will forever change the game of politics in our country. Before 2008 the political process was perceived as exclusive and elusive, accessible to only a few privileged players. But after two presidential elections of unprecedented campaign involvement and voter turnout, historically soft-spoken and underrepresented groups like African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, women, and young people are now reclaiming ownership of their political destinies. And the revolution is only just beginning.

Welcome to the Obama era.

President Obama has reengineered America’s political atmosphere, where political inclusion has now replaced the status quo. Obama brings a new face to political leadership. He is a refreshing departure from the markedly un-diverse brand of presidents and politicians that preceded him. He is real and relatable and able to reach more people, which encourages new groups to become engaged in the political process. In the Obama era, politics is no longer an enterprise reserved for old balding White men. It is no longer an old boys’ network or a country club aristocracy. Instead, it is a democracy built for and by the everyday American, and it is this inclusiveness that is politically energizing young people, women, and communities of color…

…Obama connects with a broader spectrum of people than past candidates and presidents have. Reagan alienated Black voters with his Welfare Queen caricature. Romney dyed his face orange trying to appeal to Hispanic Univision viewers. Bush refused to let Hurricane Katrina ruin the end of his vacation, surveying the ruined low-income communities from the comfort of Air Force One instead of consoling families on the ground. These types of blunders make it clear why many groups historically have felt disconnected from political leadership.

Obama’s massive appeal to minorities, women, and youth is that he is relatable. He’s real. Little Black boys find confidence in the fact that the president’s hair texture is the same as theirs. Latino parents find assurance in the fact that their president speaks their native tongue. Middle age women find solace in the fact that their president has two young daughters and will protect a woman’s right to her own body. College students across the nation find inspiration in the fact that their president can shoot the breeze with foreign heads of state, shoot down terrorist masterminds, and shoot a wicked jump shot all at the same time. Obama has both swagger and substance, a potent combination that prior commanders in chief have lacked. It’s simple. More people feel connected to the political process because now more people feel connected to their political leader.

The Obama era is a new age that politically empowers the people that the political process has historically overlooked. It is an age where those who were once voiceless have become the most vocal; where the most apathetic have claimed significant authority. Now that minorities and women and youth have taken the reins in the past two elections, I don’t see this trend changing any time soon…

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