OPINION

The Greek cult of Obama

f Greeks had any say in the matter, Barack Obama would already be the new president of the United States. Just taking the pulse of one’s friends and family tells us that the Illinois senator exercises a special kind of charm over Greeks, who have become vocal supporters of his, especially on the Internet. Naturally, we Greeks do not have the same insider knowledge as American voters and thus cannot make an objective assessment of the Democratic candidates. All it has taken is images on the television of the young Afro-American politician to seduce the masses with his talk of «change» to put him way ahead of the expected favorite. Obama has it all: He is black, he is the underdog (always a favorite when it comes to choosing two people from the same party), he has been outspoken against George W. Bush, and he has something of a John F. Kennedy air about him too. In this pro-Obama environment, the preferences of American voters living in Greece make sense: 64.1 percent of registered Democrats in Greece voted in favor of Obama, against 34.4 percent for Hillary Clinton. Numbers are similar for other American Democrats living outside the US: 65.6 percent for Obama and 32.7 percent for Clinton. So, what is it that unites Americans and so many other people all over the world under this vague ideological umbrella? Why are thousands of Greeks suddenly concerned about the outcome of the Democratic Party race? Is it just the David-and-Goliath nature of the election race or the unpredictability of the course it will take? Why do Greeks care? It may be because Greeks cannot bear the idea of hating a country which, whether we like it or not, plays a leading role in world affairs, for another four years. Mass support for Barack Obama reflects a secret promise that we have chosen to read on the lips of the presidential hopeful. It illustrates the desire of millions of people around the world for America to stop being what it had become under George W. Bush: an aggressive, unlikable global bogeyman that starts wars and hurls threats at will. Today’s unstable, frightened world has a need for a friendlier, more conciliatory, more «world-friendly» America. And this desperate need is aimed at Obama thousands of miles away from the 52 states that either will or will not make him the next president of the United States of America. No one, of course, is under any delusions. Even if Obama were to win the presidential race (and there is absolutely no certainty of this), we have no guarantees that he would necessarily present us with a new, changed America. What he will give us, however, is the hope that we may once again love a great country.