Carl Pedersen

in Obama's America

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638949
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672059 | DOI:

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American presidential elections, it has been said, are quadrennial plebiscites on national identity. The election of 2008 was no exception. Two versions of what it means to be American in the twenty-first century were articulated as part of the rhetorical strategy of the presidential campaign of 2008. The first is a backlash national identity that emerged in the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the changes in immigration law and the rise of identity politics in the 1960s and 1970s. The other version, often derided as elitist, is an emergent national identity for the twenty-first century. It is progressive, includes African Americans and new minorities with a sizeable component of non-Christians, and is strongest in metropolitan areas of the United States. This national identity is more cosmopolitan and transnational in nature. As the first non-white presidential candidate of a major political party, Barack Obama was representative of the coming transformation of American national identity in the twenty-first century. This chapter provides a background on Obama, his religious identity, patriotism and cosmopolitanism. It also examines the demographics of identity.

Keywords: presidential elections; Barack Obama; United States; national identity; African Americans; religious identity; patriotism; cosmopolitanism; demographics

Chapter.  14705 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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