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Countdown to U.S Polling Day

Oct 28, 2008, 6:07 AM

In one week, exactly seven days today, Americans will go to the polls. Everything said and done, America now faces the most momentous and historic presidential poll in her political annals.

What is past are the two major Conventions - the Democratic and the Republican Conventions. The former was hotly contested by two unlikely presidents: Obama, a very able aspirant, but black; and Hilary Clinton, intelligent and persuasive but a woman. Going by U.S political history, neither a black person nor a woman has ever been president. In the Republican camp, there was hardly a contest; it's clearly been McCain all the way.

Following the Conventions and Primaries came the exhausting campaigns, then the witty debates, and then back to the campaign trail. What have Americans made of it all? The opinion polls have constantly sent out indications of a clear Obama lead. Among those who favour Obama, it is generally believed that he is one man that can help America restore its world leadership image. He will build a strong economy for America through prudent fiscal and economic policies; through meaningful and far- reaching social reforms which America is badly in need of; and through a sound well- considered foreign policy in a world that's growing more and more resentful and hostile to "big- daddy", "hyper aggressive" American foreign relations.

What does the world make of it? Again opinions vary. Obama has the potential to lead America out of economic, political, and leadership morass into a bright future that holds greater economic and social growth at home while maintaining excellent relations and support abroad.

Obama can achieve all these things. However, given the reality of American political and social history, what one cannot predict is whether this will be a race thoroughly political, or one charged with those same racial prejudices that produced civil rights marches, black freedom groups, civil strife, as recently as the 1960s.

Let's take into account or cast it overboard but it was only in our grandparents generation that black people in America achieved status of American citizen through Civil Rights Bill of 1866, and the vote in 1870 by way of constitutional amendment. And yet, only forty years ago, black people were still struggling to enjoy those same proclaimed rights.

Therefore, the world might want to ask: will these elections be marked by that American greatness of character that espouses only rights and justice? Will we see in action America as a great advocate and bastion of democracy it wants the whole world to believe and emulate? Already the question is answered that a woman is yet to occupy the White House; but will a black? Will America ride on pride or prejudice? The world awaits with bated breath.

"Am I not a man and a brother?"

Josiah Wedgwood