COUNTDOWN 2008: Obama's youthquake:
IS THE SENATOR LEADING A MOVEMENT, OR JUST AN INTERESTING CAMPAIGN?
By Richard Halicks (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Scholars who have studied U.S. movements suggest that Obama is, indeed, part of a movement, but one that he didn't start.
"The abolitionists were the first generation to conceptualize what it meant to be an American in the modern sense of the word; that to be an American meant to be rich, poor, black, white, male, female," said Omar H. Ali, assistant professor of history at Towson University, near Baltimore. "They had a new vision of the founding documents, to extend the notion of all men being created equal to all people being created equal. Those are really the founding fathers and mothers of our country."
Jackie Salit, editor of Neo-Independent magazine and independentvoter.org, concurs that Obama is tapping into a movement that is much larger than himself. But, seen through her lens, that movement is of independent voters.
She notes that independents comprise between 35 and 40 percent of American voters, and that their numbers continue to grow.
"You look for signs that new kinds of partnerships are emerging and becoming viable in the mainstream," Salit said. "And to me, one of the very interesting partnerships that is emerging is what I would call the black and independents alliance.