The Texas and Ohio primaries are coming to a close and many speculate that the results could clinch the democratic presidential nomination for either Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton. Both candidates have been seesawing in terms of votes in a very unpredictable year of primaries and caucuses. But Obama has been on a winning streak, sweeping the last eleven primaries straight.
Many speak of Obama’s charisma and his campaign of hope that has enthralled disillusioned citizens. Hip-hop artist Will.I.Am composed a music video featuring clips of Obama's "Yes We Can" speech and a multitude of celebrity cameos. To date, the video has received over 5.5 million hits on YouTube. In January, Caroline Kennedy Schlosser wrote an Op-ed in the New York Times, endorsing Obama and likening him to her late father, perhaps the most inspirational and hopeful president in our nation’s history.
But not everyone is swept up in Obama mania. Hillary Clinton has criticized his campaign for relying on false hope and rhetoric instead of experience and a track record of successful policy. According to a MSNBC article, Clinton is quoted as saying, “I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change…And we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered."
Stanford University Press author Hirokazu Miyazaki disagrees. Miyazaki, a professor of Anthropology at Cornell University and author of The Method of Hope: Anthropology, Philosophy, and Fijian Knowledge (2004), has focused his research on the question, “How do we keep hope alive?” In a guest column for the Ithaca Journal, Miyazaki analyzes Obama’s campaign and contends that Clinton and others are perhaps underestimating the American people’s hunger for hope.
He says, “Research on hope in diverse cultures shows that one individual's hope often can replicate itself, in a specific way, in the lives of many other individuals. The rhetoric of hope may seem general, abstract and intangible; but the effect of hope is often quite specific, personal and substantive.”
“Imagine what would happen if every American who has long endured disappointment, fear and hopelessness suddenly regained hope about the future. By that very fact, the most radical change imaginable would already have happened.”
The policy vs. hope debate and the presidential primaries will continue on through the end of June.