Friday, January 18, 2008

Overcoming The Obama Dilemma

"I'm Asking You To Believe."
Not just in my ability to
bring about change in Washington...
I'm asking you to believe in yours."
Presidential Candidate Barack Obama

"Not yet, Mr. Obama... not yet."

Those were my thoughts about Mr. Obama's Presidential aspirations. I met Mr. Obama a few years earlier at a Chicago fundraiser for his first Senate bid. I found him and his wife refreshing and most of all, the real thing. I've worked in the political arena on both the national and local level. Refreshing is a rare commodity. When Mr. Obama announced his Presidential bid, I didn't hesitate to point my mouse to to make my campaign contribution. In the recesses of my mind, those words continued to resonate... "not yet, Mr. Obama... not yet."

And then came Iowa.

I vacationed in Iowa immediately after first meeting Mr. Obama. There were cornfields aplenty and several really nice art galleries. But the talk of the town was all about Obama. Senate candidate Obama had blazed a trailed thru Golena, Iowa a week earlier and folks were still on fire! They were actually giddy over Mr. Obama (as in Ala-BAMA). So, I wasn't shocked when he won the Iowa Presidential caucus. However, I was shocked that my silent mantra was still playing out in my head... "Not yet, Mr. Obama... not yet." My apprehension was logical to me, even if steeped in a kind of ethnic protectionism. Why would anyone want to face these facts:

Fact: The next President of the United States of America will inherit a mess of historic proportions. From the economy to foreign policy, the President-elect will be knee deep in mess. I'm talking the kind of mess that invokes memories of Cedric The Entertainers' Presidential Stress Response of "just tell 'em I ain't home."

Fact: By all indicators we are already immersed in a recession. Then again, who needs an indicator. How's your raise? Your mortgage? Your credit card debt? Your tax bill? Are you oversleeping or can't quite sleep through the night?

Fact: There is no quick fix to the war. The only silver lining? Buy some Halliburton stock. Then again, you might do well to just say no to this blood money.

These facts, coupled with America's pattern of assassinating African-American leaders, form the basis for my Obama dilemma. Why would I want my candidate to inherit this mess? Six months into the new Presidency, the American public will forget who created the mess. I honestly don't want the Nation's first African-American President to be crushed under the weight of the Bush administration. I acknowledge and accept that African-Americans must often do more with less, and have historically made the best of bad situations. But Damn! This is about as bad as it gets. So you see, this cannot be your time, Mr. Obama. I felt strongly about my position - that is - until I heard your Iowa victory speech...

"They said this day would never come..."

Now that alone was enough to capture my full attention. But his message was bigger than the civil rights movement. He then followed with...

"This is the day America remembered
what it means to HOPE."

On that victorious evening in Iowa, Barack Obama stopped being too young or too inexperienced. His youthful outlook and lack of time inside the political machine will be invaluable assets. I vowed that I would combat any fears about his safety with prayer. Most of all, my support wouldn't be based simply on the color of his skin. He's my next President because he is the best candidate for the journey that lies ahead. As my good friend, Dr. Dickerson, would say "he came into this world fully prepared for this journey."

In the words of the late Martin L. King, Jr., "there are some difficult days ahead." Indeed America must reap the bitter harvest sown from the Bush administration's seeds of arrogance and blatant disregard for humanity. The bible teaches us that in
everything there is a season. I believe the 2008 Presidential election challenges us to pick the candidate best suited for the coming season.

There is a time for a politician. There is a time for a war hero. There is a time for a diplomat and a time for a shrewd tactician. But, today... today is not that season.

This is the season of Hope. This is the season of change. We need a leader who can inspire the light within us, even as the foreboding shadows close in all around us. This is the season that they said would never come. I'll never understand why the naysayers doubted its arrival. Then again, the messenger was just some wet behind the ears, 34-year old minister talkin' bout "I Have a Dream." What would he know... right? Right!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day from That Johnson Boy!

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