Finally, after five months of primaries and caucuses, Barack Obama has become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the United States Presidency.
He passed the magical 2,118 target today with a wave of pledges from super delegates, putting himself over the line before we even get results from Montana.
It is a historic day to have an African American candidate for the most powerful job in the world. Not only was slavery legal 150 years ago in the US, but just 40 years ago African Americans were segregated second class citizens (and in NZ worth noting it was only in 1967 that Maori were allowed to vote on the general roll). The US has come a very long way in just one generation.
I am not a fan of Senator Obama’s policies, but today is a day to recognize his historic achievement. He is an extremely gifted politician who carries the burden of a huge amount of hope and promise for his supporters. He managed to defeat the formidable Clinton machine and now faces off the no less formidable Republican Party.
If he should win, it has to be recognized that an Obama presidency has the potential to be a positive catalyst for improving America’s standing within the world. A Black President would be more than just a powerful symbol for a country which is truly built on being a melting pot of immigrants. A President who attended school in Pakistan Indonesia, and has Muslim relatives would make it a lot harder to demonise the United States as the Great Satan.
There are legitimate questions over his experience and his policies, and they will be debated over the months to come. But today is Obama’s day – and one he has earnt.