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    Obama: The Sojourner’s Political Journey


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    Obama: The Sojourner’s Political Journey

    AS President Joe Biden grapples with persistently resistant approval ratings, the question of whether former President Barack Obama can reinvigorate disenchanted Democrats has resurfaced. As the Washington’s chattering classes speculate, conversations are centred around Obama’s potential to be the magical healer Democrats desperately need. A recent headline from Politico asks, “Is Barack Obama ready to reassert himself?”

    Last week, Biden and Obama filmed a brief 68-second campaign fundraising video together. The video highlighted “five reasons to donate US$5” to Biden’s current presidential campaign. While the contrast in age and vitality between the two men was noticeable, their bonhomie was clear. However, Obama seemed confined by the format, task, and situation, leaving one recurring question: What will the former president, who still exudes energy and ambition at 61, do next?

    Longtime Obama watchers in Chicago are reminded of the “Who is Barack Obama?” questions that surrounded his rise to the White House. He once described himself as a “sojourner,” a person who moves from one temporary place to another. This term draws parallels between Obama and his globe-trotting African father, whom he barely knew. Moving from Hawaii to Indonesia, then to Los Angeles, New York, and eventually Chicago, Obama never firmly associated himself with a specific community or issue.

    While Obama’s almost-chameleon-like personality allowed him to navigate different crowds with ease, it also created a tribal sense of “otherness” during his campaign. This was exploited by his rivals, including Donald Trump, who baselessly claimed Obama was born in Kenya. Even now, most Americans don’t associate Obama with any particular community or issue.

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    However, in recent times, Obama has shown signs of deeper engagement with a wider variety of communities and missions. He has held informal discussions with Democratic lawmakers and praised the new generation of politicians more frequently. These actions align with his previous post-presidential goal of developing a new generation of talent to help rebuild the Democratic Party.

    While Obama has various post-presidency projects, such as the Obama Foundation and the Obama Presidential Center, his surrogates continue to use cautious, leveraging language when discussing his future involvement. It appears that Obama will participate in Biden’s campaign as a celebrity pop-up event, aiming to motivate young Democratic voters in unconventional and unexpected settings. Time will tell whether the former president is ready to put down new roots, but there are many places and people who could benefit from his focused assistance.

    One such place is the Obama Presidential Center, currently under construction in Jackson Park. Only time will reveal what lies ahead for Obama after his lifelong sojourn. — Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service

    Credit: The Star : News Feed

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