Views on politics and current events

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Inspired, The Confused, The Angry

Senator Barack Obama continues his quest for the Democratic nomination for president with an eloquence that inspires some, confuses others, and angers and scares far too many.

I understand the ones that are inspired. Obama from the first has had the gift of connecting to his audience. You really don't know how powerful a speaker he is until you hear and see him in person. Being skeptical by nature, Obama's charisma has made him suspect in my book. I don't look at any candidate through rose colored glasses, no matter how eloquent they may talk. And the few rabid Obamaites that have put him on a pedestal are setting themselves up to be disappointed. He is human after all. But I do believe, among the candidates still in the running, he is hands down the best one for the job. At least I am willing to give him the chance to try and walk the walk that he's talking.

I understand the ones that are confused. Obama's message is inclusive to a degree that has not been heard in recent memory. The past 12 years has been the ultimate in partisan politics. I'll not lay blame on one party over the other. While it is true that Republicans controlled congress and the White house for 6 years, the Democrats have done little to change things since their winning a majority in both houses, in my opinion. Those that have grown accustomed to one-party control no doubt can't fathom how anything would get done without partisan politics. Obama's message is one of working together, across party lines, a time when the majority party has a loyal opposition party to help keep them honest. Obama's talk of inclusiveness has lead to much criticism from both sides of the aisle. Conservatives don't want to compromise their values to a liberal, and vice versa. Whenever both sides of the aisle do not like or do not agree with what someone is saying, it should give pause for reflection on the likelihood that the opinion in question may be the correct course of action.

Lastly, the ones that are full of anger and fear. Running the gamut from racism to contempt of anything less than a conservative political philosophy. Might as well throw hatred into the mix along with anger and fear, for all three emotions are connected and feed off each other. What Obama has done with his speech about race is to try and open the door to a dialogue about race relations in this nation. A dialogue that has been needed for a long time. But as long as fear, hatred and anger rule the hearts of some, all of the hope Obama represents will not bear fruit. That some fan the flames of hatred is obvious to me. To get power, to keep power, for money, whatever the rationalization. That certain members of society, the media, and political leaders benefit (or think they benefit) from fanning these flames is despicable. In these times of the monied and powerful (same thing) elite in this country, that is not to be condoned but expected. But for those that fall outside of the monied elite and powerful that harbor so much hatred and fear, it is an example of the degree of ignorance that some folks are infected with.

Obama is but the catalyst. It is up to us to spread the word, reframe the discussion, peacefully engage people in discussion, be willing and able to maintain our composure when we are inevitably confronted with naked prejudice and hatred. From all races, from all sides. This is the hope that Obama represents to me. Not pie-in-the-sky daydreams, but the beginnings of making the right steps towards bettering race relations in this country. To my mind, Senator Obama has shown much courage in speaking out the way he has. Regrettably, race relations are in such a state that he has left himself wide open to political and physical danger. Sometimes ya gotta go with the best that you've got. Obama's courage has shown me that he is the best that we've got. To hell with my skepticism. Now it is up to me to give support. Not just with donations, but by engaging in the type of dialogue he is advocating. By doing such, I am supporting much more than a politician running for the presidency. I am supporting the possibility that things just may be going to get better. With eyes wide open, it is the least I can do.

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