I'm a huge fan of B.O. Sounds strange, I'm sure, but it's not what you think. I'm referring to the presidential candidate that seems to be on a steamroll to the Democratic nomination this summer.

I'm talking about Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Notice what I did there? I referred to him by his name and title. Not the guy with the Arab-sounding name. Not the guy trying to metaphorically beat a woman. And absolutely not the man trying to be the first black president.

Why? Because it shouldn't matter. At all. Well, in some respects, it does, but not as a factor. It should matter more on a symbolic scale.

Think about this election for a moment. With the Iowa caucuses that took place last week, Washington D.C. was turned upside down and inside out. The seemingly invincible frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, was stunned by a third place finish to Obama and former Senator John Edwards, respectively.

The numbers didn't lie. Obama had the majority of women voters cast their ballot for him over Clinton as well as the support of the coveted 18 to 24 year old demographic.

Experts struggled to come up with a reason for the defeat, which they eventually did, but it seemed to be pretty obvious. Americans want change. They crave it.

In a decade rocked with war, economic uncertainty and environmental concerns, the current administration has done little to ease the worries of the American people. Rather, President George W. Bush seems to have succumbed to the fact that this Democratic Congress has left him a lame duck for the last year of his presidency and concentrated instead on deciding which bill to veto.

The housing market is slumping, with foreclosures at an all-time high. Meanwhile, it appears that the United States is on the verge of a recession.

Maybe that's why people are paying so much attention to this election. This is presidential race that hasn't seen a candidate generate this much excitement since Bill Clinton played his saxophone on national television.

It says something about our society that the two frontrunners are a woman and an African American, yet what most people are attacking are their resum/s. But what catches my eye the most is how often Obama's race does not come up.

He is the epitome, I believe, of the American dream. Born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and an American mother, he has seen a diversity of culture many never will. Currently, he is the only African American serving on the U.S. Senate.

But that doesn't matter. Because right now, what people see is not a black man. They don't see a man with a Muslim name. They see a candidate that has made the American people believe that if they are unhappy with the government, we have the power to change it.

Am I na•ve to feel that way? Maybe. But is it so wrong to want to believe that our country has reached a point when race is no longer a factor in elections?

No matter what happens from here on out, I think voters have thus far proven my point.