Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Letter to a Mentor: The Importance of Obama...


Included below is an excerpt from a message I sent to a mentor of mine following Obama's win in Iowa. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding Obama's candidacy and potential victory, especially among black folk. This letter hopefully addresses some of those anxieties (or at least puts them into perspective). Be blessed.

I couldn't agree with you more. The current two party system is an affront to true democracy. Even if a viable third party candidate were presented to the American people, his/her party affiliation would mean automatic relegation to the bottom of the political totem pole. I personally think Ralph Nadar would have made a great president.

But, alas, we're forced to work with what we have...we're forced to choose the lesser of two evils as you phrased it. And though this election presents, in my opinion, far better options then we've seen in the previous six or seven elections in my lifetime, there is still much to be desired.

Nonetheless, for all its flaws, the political process in America is still the most idealistically democratic in the world. Ask any Kenyan today how they feel about transitions in power...or South African's the fact that Zuma, a man accused of rape and corruption, was selected ANC chief and may become their next president.

Regardless of who wins in November, the status quo in America remains the pretty much the same and, to be honest, I'm not jaded by the fact. If anything, its somewhat comforting.

Presidential elections in the part of the world I come from is blood sport. People die...children are deprived of basic education...road construction ceases...the consequences of presidential elections in the rest of the world is often far more consequential than here in the U.S.

Obama's probably not going to be any better as a president than any other who has come before him, but his impact on this country is far more than just political.

That's what gets people like myself and Rebecca excited. We have chosen to focus on the impact Obama's presidency is going to have on a generation of youth that will grow up under a black president. That's a revolutionary notion in this country. Who would have thought we'd have a black president this early in the 21st century? And think about the sort of people Obama may appoint...a black attorney general...possibly another minority or female supreme court justice...how about an Asian-American Secretary of Defense. Whatever the case is, we can be fairly certain that a PRESIDENT Obama will not allow gender or race to impair his sense of whether or not an individual is "qualified" for a given position (whatever that means). I can't say that for the rest of the Democractic nominees, let alone the Republicans.

Though the momentum starts with Obama, we're looking beyond him and into what his presence means to America's future both socially and politically. I can't wait for the results to come into tomorrow night.