This post is guest-blogged by Holle Abee. Holle is a a retired teacher of British Literature, World Literature, and Creative Writing.


“…a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany…and you will suddenly realize you must go to the polls and vote for Obama.” Barack Obama, Lebanon, New Hampshire, January 7, 2008.

Huh? No politician in history has ever uttered such prophetic, messianic words to his potential followers. And the words were taken to heart by millions of Americans searching for a savior amid our current problems. With global wars, a chaotic economy, widespread famine, and vile genocide looming, the world has turned its hopeful eyes to Barack Obama to deliver us from evil.

A far-fetched exaggeration? Just think about the words associated with Obama and his supporters: Obamessiah, the One, Obamania, Obamabots. The president-elect himself was aware of the undying devotion he received, made evident when he said at the Al Smith Dinner that “he wasn’t actually born in a manger, contrary to popular belief.” Do his followers actually see him as the second Christ?

The extreme ends of the political spectrum have never been so divided over a presidential candidate. Some on the very far right view Obama as the antichrist, convinced that he is the one who “rose from the sea (of politics)” and whose election will be the beginnning of the Great Tribulation. Others, on the far left, are just as certain that Obama is the savior we have long awaited.

A logical person, of course, understands that Obama is neither a demon nor a god. He’s a gifted, persuasive, inspiring speaker with a dynamic personality whose words of “change” and “hope” have resonated with millions of followers looking for answers. The great enthusiasm he has invoked is, however, uncanny.

According to a recent Zogby poll, many who voted for Barack Obama actually knew little about him, yet they followed him blindly into the voting booth. They campaigned relentlessly for him. They registered millions of new voters. They contributed formerly unheard of amounts of money for his efforts. They established an almost military-like grass roots ground game in an effort to “get out the vote.” He became the hero on college campuses across the nation, achieving rockstar-status. Even millions of Europeans turned out to hear his words of wisdom.

Nationally speaking, Obama was relatively unheard of before the 2004 election, when he delivered a speech at the Democratic Nation Convention that can be compared to the inspirational orations of William Jennings Bryant, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy. From this humble start, Obama quickly rose through the ranks of Democratic hopefuls, surpassing many who had more experience and more accomplishments. He left them in the proverbial dust, wondering, “Who is this guy? What just happened?”

The mainstream media quickly embraced this new candidate. He enjoyed fawning admiration from national pundits and news anchors. They were loathe to report anything negative about their new darling or to utter anything positive about his opponents. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews even reported that he got chills up his legs when he heard Obama’s speeches. Keith Olberman turned on Hillary Clinton when she threatened an Obama presidency. Before the election was over, even moderates like Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer were jumping on the Obama bandwagon. The public, when polled, admitted that the media was trying its best to help elect Obama, but few voters seemed to mind the unfair coverage.

Where did this guy come from? Obama considers himself to be “a citizen of the world.” He’s lived in Indonesia, has strong ties with Africa, and traveled extensively before settling into the hotbed of Chicago politics. He served a short stint as an Illinois state senator, where he voted “present” over 130 times. Yet, this decision-challenged candidate went on to become a U.S. senator, and after serving only a couple of years, with no major legislation under his belt, he sought the nomination for president by his party.

At first, few gave his efforts much of a chance. Surely Hillary Clinton was a shoe-in. But somehow, Obama convinced all the right people that he was “The One.” The one to save us from ourselves. Not just the U.S., but the entire world. He somehow achieved an almost cultish following. No one would have believed a few years ago that a little-known new black senator from Illinois would soundly defeat a well known war hero in his quest for the highest office in the land. But defeat McCain he did, with Obama receiving more votes than anyone in history. Ever.

Now that’s it’s a “done deal,” how will this cult-like adoration of Obama impact how the presidency is viewed? In this day of 24-7 news casts, it’s all about perception. The media will decide how Obama is viewed by the American, if not the world, public. They will tell us how to think and will give us only what they want us to know. They will selectively “hand feed” us bits and pieces and shiny photo-ops, without ever giving us a glimse of “the emporer’s new clothes.” We will be told, like Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Many, desperate to believe, will be led willingly down the yellow brick road, hoping and praying that our savior has, indeed, arrived.


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