The fact that Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has come this far in American presidential politics is quite astounding. There are monumental obstacles that, by all logic, should've sunk his candidacy midstream, or kept it from getting off the ground in the first place. He's a 46-year young black man from a broken, racially-mixed family. He's got little experience on the national stage. He's a Senator. He's got some questionable, controversial relationships (Rev. Wright). He took on the the mighty Clintons. Despite being attacked on all sides, he fought in the primaries with dignity, grace and, for the most part, ran an unusually clean campaign that demonstrated character and integrity. He won his party's nomination and now faces an historic battle against the GOP's presumptive nominee, Sen. John McCain. And in 2008 America, Barack Obama must win.
To be sure, when it comes to race and race relations, the United States has an ugly past. This includes slavery, lynchings, murder/hate crimes, segregation, voter disenfranchisement, job discrimination, etc. But the truth is, 2008 America is a much better place. While racial prejudice still exists, and it's still quite ugly at times, blacks have made tremendous progress in becoming part of the national fabric in sports, entertainment, business, politics and more. Blacks have become leaders of industry, pop culture icons and powerful politicians....many of whom, like Obama, have quite successfully transcended color.
On the political landscape, people such as Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice and Obama have risen to enormous positions of power. Blacks are winning city, state and national elections more than ever, and that includes the deep South. The U.S. House of Representatives is 10% black. Two states, including New York, have black governors. This year, the Obama camp believes that it could see the South return to the Democrats for the first time in 40 years. Yes, there is change indeed. Which is why Obama must win.
The U.S. presidency is the grand prize. Again, it is nothing short of remarkable that Obama has overcome so many obstacles and is within very short reach of the White House. But the simple truth is, this year's election is the Perfect Storm of politics. The country is mired in an unpopular war, the economy's teetering on recession, and the existing administration--racked by cronyism, scandal and corruption--has historically low approval ratings. Gas is inching towards $5.00/gallon, housing prices are down 15% year-over-year, and consumer confidence is at a 15-year low. It's the perfect opportunity for Americans to shatter racial divides and elect a black president, someone who, after eight miserable years of George W. Bush, speaks to their bread-and-butter issues. But that opportunity may not come around again for a long time. The table could not be better set than it is right now. Which is why Obama must win.
America needs to get over itself and finally break down these walls of racism. It's time that its citizens stop viewing each other through the prism of color, and focus instead on the person beneath the skin. If we as a nation are to ever get beyond centuries of ignorance and racial bigotry, Obama must win. Whites would finally be presented with a black president and be forced to confront their inherent fears, while hopefully accepting the cultural reality that success or failure in the Oval Office has nothing to do with race. And for some blacks, they would no longer be able to hide behind the contention that the "system" is keeping them down, and instead assume a greater responsibility for their own successes and/or failures....a point that both Obama and the comedian Bill Cosby have spoken out on recently. In short, Obama's candidacy would effectively disarm those with bias and those with excuses. More than ever in our 232 year history, people might finally be just, well, people.
But if Obama loses to McCain in November, that will be an even greater statement of where America is with regard to race. That a candidate from a severely weakened party, who votes in virtual lockstep with Bush, could beat Obama while voters voice that they so desperately want and need change, would signal that having a black president is, in 2008, perhaps too much change. In that case, the nation, not just Obama, loses.
HELP ELECT BARACK OBAMA PRESIDENT: It's now time for us to pull together as Democrats and unite behind Obama and his historic candidacy. These are exciting times. I urge you to support Obama by sending the campaign whatever you can afford. In politics, money is key. There are many swing states this year--Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri among them. With a sizeable war chest for campaigning, ground teams/staff, ads, mailings, Internet/email promotions, etc, he can win these states. I am commited to raising $25,000 for the campaign between now and November. Click here to make a contribution and help me reach this goal. Together we can change America.