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Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan: It’s the Age of Obama!

If you have ever lived in Washington, DC, you will clearly see, if you visit these days, that America is living in a new era—the Obama era. America is changing, and American society, with its lively and ever-renewing nature, is renewing itself yet again. Today, you barely can find a table in a restaurant or café that doesn’t have a political discussion underway with Obama’s name in it. Sharp criticism of the last administration is now explicit optimism for the new administration. There is a consensus, in most of the circles I visited in Washington, that “change” is the theme of the current period. This change, led by Obama from the moment he launched his campaign, “Yes, we can,” was not purely a political need for America necessitated by the circumstances of world affairs. It also has resonated with the transformation of American society—stages of change, renewal, and self criticism. America’s demographic composition is also different than ten years ago. Spanish is forcing its way next to English in most of the places I saw in my recent visit. Americans’ colors, features, and accents are diverse but harmonious in daily life, as if Barack Obama formed a new symbol for uniting America in face of the internal and external challenges. In the 1990s, I lived for six years in Washington, whose corridors continue to witness the creation of the most important world decisions. Back then, there was seldom a day that passed without someone asking me, "where are you from"? In my recent visit to Washington, for a whole week, not a single person asked me that question or about my ethnic heritage. With the current economic crisis and the optimism about the Obama era, which has just begun to unite the America body politic, it’s as if this society today is constantly challenging itself, to prove for itself and for others that America can rise again, rid itself of and solve the crises of the previous administration.

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