By now, there is no one in Kuwait that doesn't know the name "Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi". Kuwait is small, I know, but she is arguably one of the most well known, non-former MP, candidate in the country. Why is that?
In the 2008 elections, Aseel (while articles normally abbreviate using the last name, her first name has become somewhat iconic and is used even in the daily papers)was the first woman to become part of an election grouping. At the time, that grouping was pushed forward by the National Democratic Alliance and inclueded two of her colleauges: Faisal Al-Shayee and Khaled Al-Khaled. She outperformed them significantly.
In fact, Aseel was a mere 600 votes away from snatching victory from HADAS candidate and co-founder Dr. Naser Al-Sane (a seasoned politician who's had a seat in Parliament almost continuously since the end of the Iraqi Invasion). Dr. Naser isn't running this time around.
What is it that makes this candidate, out of all the other male and female candidates, so special? Perhaps its her ability to relate to the youth of the country, by adapting her campaign to the online arena and her extensive use of facebook, youtube, and her Obama-sized website. Is that it? Her facebook group boasted more than 2000 members in less than 4 days, and consists of voters in the district, voters out of the district, a strong underage following, and I even saw a few foreigners in the mix.
Maybe its her calm and logical demeanor. She does have a PhD in political science, and from the US no less. Still, there are very few people, especially from the academic world, that can enter advanced argumentation without sounding eletist and condescending. Strangely enough, after watching more than my share of Aseel interviews, I can say that she sounds sophisticated but not snobby, smart but not stuck up, logical but not bitter.
The more seasoned politicians tend to sound bitter these days. It could be their vast experience in Parliament has worn them down, much like a warrior who's fought one too many fights. It could be that these politicians believe that voters are looking for those who are just as bitter as they are to represent them in office. If the latter is the case, I believe there has been a grave miscalculation. Even the most bitter person wants to believe in our future. They just don't know where to start. Is that it? Is Aseel's continuous message of hope, change, and rejuvenating our nation as generations before us have done the key to her growing popularity?
I honestly can't say what it is that makes Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi such a magnetic personality. Or why its tough to switch the television channel when one hears her talk about what Kuwait can be if we take the time to envision it first. Maybe I like the higher standard of political rehtoric she uses and the fact that she doesn't feel that the Kuwaiti veiwer needs you to "dumb-down" your thoughts for them. Maybe I feel that her educational background gives her resources that many of our previous MPs were lacking, and equips her to make change instead of only talking about it. Or maybe, just maybe...I believe her. You have to decide for yourself, wheter or not you believe her too.
Note: Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi's official headquarters opens tonight, April 29th 2009 under the heading - "A Nation Renewed"