In 2008 most of America and parts of the world was introduced to a rising political star in the Democratic party. He was young, fresh-faced, articulate, and ready to remake the image of this nation. He was an educated man, a family man, and a respected man. When he spoke, people listened. His words comforted, reassured, and inspired a nation to embrace “change” and reject “business-as-usual” when it came to politics. With many strikes against him (inexperience, questionable affiliations, and skin color), he answered the clarion call to enter the presidential race. His decision was humorous for some, downplayed by others, and supported by many. Some felt that he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in satan’s abode of even being taken seriously, let alone winning. He would first have to get past the democratic frontrunner in the primaries–one Hillary Rodham Clinton. “That will never happen,” many thought. The Clinton’s are powerful and well-liked. Mrs. Clinton could very well be the first female President of the United States.” Others thought, “here we go again. Another African-American trying to be seriously considered. Okay, we have to be fair. We’ll let the little black guy play the game but we sure as heck ain’t gonna let him win! At least it can’t be said that he wasn’t given a chance.” And so, it was on!
Barack H. Obama burst onto the scene with a smile as big as the Windy City and an intellect second to none. His “Change” mantra ignited fires of hope around the country. His tenacity drew a second look from his critics. His compassion for the poor and working class became a salve–soothing wounds of hopelessness and despair. The bi-racial political lightweight was making gains on the aforementioned Mrs. Clinton. America began to sit up and take notice. “Okay, calm down guys. He’s not going to win. It’s just media spin that we’re experiencing. It’s too many of us and not enough of them for him to win the democratic nomination. Let’s just go along. Everything is fine.” The very negative tone of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign combined with the spawning of racist rhetoric and “out-of-the-closet” bigotry by citizens and elected officials alike, dropped a nuclear bomb of reality on a nation mentally unprepared to be led by a man of color.
Each caucus win watered the seeds of change. Each delegate win produced a harvest of hope. The opposition tried in vain to derail the Obama momentum train. From Bill Ayers to Jeremiah Wright, from Tony Rezko to ACORN, nothing was “off the table” when it came to trying to rid the country of this very viable contender. However, Obama kept his focus. He took the punches, nursed the bruises, iced the black eyes, and wiped the bloody nose. He stood tall and firm, refusing to be intimidated or scared away from his purpose. That perseverance handed him the gift of the Democratic nomination. Red states of the south couldn’t stop him. Conservative strongholds in the west couldn’t pin him to the mat. Bigots of Appalachia couldn’t impact the outcome. When Mrs. Clinton finally unwillingly “conceded,” shock, horror, and amazement gripped the nation. He did it. The black guy won the Democratic nomination. This cannot be happening! And so, the fringe, the extreme, and the mentally impaired of America embarked upon a campaign to stunt Obama’s growth. They were determined to keep him from winning the presidency. Senator John McCain became the only hope after winning the Republican nomination for President.
Hope became resurrected and empowered for minorities, the downtrodden, and the less fortunate. Finally. Is the United States finally willing to extend the olive branch of equality to her citizens of color? It didn’t take long for that question to be answered in the negative. Barack Obama selected the very capable Joseph Biden to be his running mate. The two made a great couple. Great smiles, pleasant dispositions, politically aware, and for the most part, well-respected. They began to make an impact. Thousands upon thousands showed up for their rallies. The elderly statesman from Arizona, John McCain, attempted to capitalize on the disgruntled, disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters (female voters) by “vetting” or not, the unknown “maverick” from Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin, to be his potential running mate. Polls and surveys clearly showed that white women in America were bitterly against Barack Obama and willing to support the McCain campaign as a show of their displeasure.
The campaign took many twists and turns. Mud-slinging and finger-pointing was a daily ritual. The national conventions proved once and for all that America was still a very racist, divided nation. The Democratic convention however, was much more inclusive. It was attended by blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, gays, straights, educated, middle class, wealthy, young, old, the known and the unknown. By contrast, the Republican convention was basically attended by middle-aged and older white Americans. It opened my eyes to the sad fact that politics is an ugly sport–harsh, brutal, and without repentance.
After the convention speeches were made and celebratory confetti had fallen, the “real America” came forth like a savage beast–a deadly roaring lion protecting its territory. The Democratic rallies unified the people. The Republican rallies incited the people. Hate speeches, death threats and racist reactions came to define the McCain/Palin gatherings. Yet, it didn’t matter. America had to remain under the leadership of Caucasians. It would be an insult and blow to the founding fathers if an African-American was given the reins to the most powerful country on earth.
Issues regarding the economy, health care, education, global warming, immigration and more was satisfactorily answered by the Democrats. At least to a degree. The Republicans vehemently opposed but offered no solutions. Debates became forums of contention and strife. The mainstream media died a slow, agonizing death when it tossed integrity into the abyss and adorned itself with sensationalism and tabloid-like opining. Civility, sanity, and morality was brutally assassinated by the fringe elements of a party that refused to descend the pedestal of racial superiority. Barack Obama and his forces of change marched on in spite of the deafening noise of racism disguised as ideology and policy differences.
On election night 2008, Americans in favor of equality, justice, and hope for a new and improved America turned red states blue and lay claim to the electoral college with power. Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States. The first commander-in-chief of color. The first black to hold the highest office in the land. The most powerful leader of the free world. Since that joyous night, the noise from the fringe elements of the far right has been turned up a decibel, drowning out all calls for civility, patience, and partisanship. Since taking office, President Obama has faced an onslaught of criticism–justified and unjustified. However, the deafening noise from his opposers does little to reassure and calm the fears of American citizens. Somewhere, beyond the noise and the muck and mire of political maneuverings, lies the faintly beating heart of an America awaiting CPR from the citizens who claim to love her.
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