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the condition of being a very enthusiastic supporter of newly-elected US President Barack Obama
'His most fervent backers fall in love with his idealistic message of change … his youth, and his powerful presence on the stump. For some, the affair can border on obsession. … And activist Democrats aren't the only ones swept up in Obamamania. His campaign events are filled with first-time voters, self-described political slackers, and even a few Republicans who now zealously back the first-term senator from Illinois.'Politico 20th February 2008
'Obamania came to the Commons yesterday as party leaders fell over themselves to praise the US President-Elect, telling everyone he was one helluva guy and their bestest American buddy.'The Herald, UK 6th November 2008
'Gov. Deval Patrick, in Chicago to congratulate Barack Obama on his historic election win, said the deafening roar of Obamaniacs in Grant Park forced him to watch his pal's victory speech on TV …'Boston Herald 6th November 2008
On 4th November 2008, history was made when African-American Barack Obama was elected the first black President of the United States of America.
Word play is a regular feature of political commentary, and in the context of unprecedented interest in the plight of the Illinois Senator, linguistic fruit has been plentiful. One expression which has gradually gained currency throughout Obama's presidential campaign and is now exploding onto the scene with the successful outcome, is a word which sums up the public's emotional response – Obamamania.
Obamamania is the condition of being a particularly enthusiastic supporter of president-elect Obama. Not overtly negative but sometimes used with mildly cynical overtones, Obamamania occurs as both a closed and open compound (Obama mania). Also widely used is a blended form, Obamania, and as I write this article I'm wondering whether this is partly for ease – that middle sequence of "a"s and "m"s in the unblended option doesn't trip off the tongue (or keyboard!) too easily. Zealous supporters of Obama are correspondingly labelled Obamamaniacs or Obamaniacs.
mothers have been marking the historic win by naming their newborn babies Barack and Michelle
Whatever the perception of Obama's idealistic messages of change, hope and unity, the significance of the election of a black US president could not be overestimated, stimulating overwhelming interest and euphoria among nations across the world. Moving images such as civil rights activist Jesse Jackson's tearful response to Obama's success have captured the imagination of millions, and are likely to seal the survival of Obamamania for some time to come.
Outside the political arena, even the entertainment industry seems to have jumped on the Obamamania bandwagon, with speculation about the prospect of black actors playing iconic roles such as James Bond and Doctor Who. Obamamania has also sparked a name craze in Kenya (the birthplace of Obama's father), where mothers have been marking the historic win by naming their newborn babies Barack and Michelle.
Obamamania follows a productive pattern of blending proper nouns with the suffix -mania. Previous examples have included Beatlemania, which swept through Britain in the 1960s with the overwhelming popularity of the Liverpool band, and more recently Henmania, used to refer to zealous support for British tennis player Tim Henman.
Other examples of word play centred around the newly-elected US president include the noun Obamacon, used to describe Republican or conservative supporters of Obama, and Baracknophobia, an irrational fear of Obama and/or the idea that his idealistic policies have a hidden agenda (a play on the term arachnophobia, which describes the fear of spiders).
This article was first published on 13th November 2008.
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