There has been a lot of optimism and hope from young people about the campaign of Barack Obama. Particularly I know of a lot of young Muslims who are very excited about the Obama campaign. In fairness I am one of those people. I think Obama represents change and a breath of fresh air. Obama is a man of big ideas and I think he just may be the man to bring about some of the significant changes we need in this society and put away the old America and usher in the new era.
Having said that I do not necessary look at politics as something that can deliver everything the people need in order to make change. True change comes from the bottom up. Change can be nudged along or inspired from the top at times and there are certain things that can only be done from the top but change is something from the bottom up.
There are a lot of Muslims, and non-Muslims, who are waiting on some messianic figure to rise in order to make everything alright. Muslims are looking for a khalifah who cannot make salaah, fast or worship for us and cannot from the top down reorganize dysfunctional Muslim societies without Mao-like massive brutality. Americans are looking for one man who can redo some of the ills that have plagued this society from its inception and it is not possible for one man or a group of men to do all things in the system that we have. I except very little from politicians I vote for and if I get anything I’m surprised.
Muslims looking for Obama to change everything will be disappointed. Muslims looking for him to make some gradual changes that will benefit all of society and change the direction of government will probably be fulfilled. There are even subtle ways Obama will benefit Muslims. For example just having someone with his name can open the minds of many Americans that this is not just a nation of Smiths and Robinsons anymore. It will also open the worlds eyes to the fact America is a lot more racially and ethnically complex than we often get credit for.
The two Muslim women in Michigan last week who were denied entrance to the stage because they were wearing hijab got caught up in politics. There are already millions of Americans who believe Obama is a Muslim and America will not elect a Muslim to national office so Obama and his campaign have to reasonably distance themselves from the Muslim community. This may not be comfortable for Obama-loving Muslims but it is smart politics. I expect Obama to have a limited interaction with Muslims during the campaign but to send surrogates to try and get the Muslim vote. However, if I am right, I believe that after elected he will reach out to the Muslim community in a way no other president has.