– Senator Barack Obama, accepting the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, August 28, 2008.
Images like the one above make me sad. Sad not only because I do not share in the happiness, the revelry that she and so many other of my fellow Americans are feeling when they look upon and listen to Senator Obama speak of “change” and “hope”; but sad also because I believe the adulation they give him is so richly undeserved.
There’s a piece of my heart that aches when I look at this picture. I want to believe….I want my fellow citizens to feel healed and whole….I, as much as anyone, want this country to move beyond the divisiveness of race. I want my fellow citizens back; the ones who I can disagree with, but who haven’t fallen for the snake-oil rhetoric. I want to empathize with those who claim it’s impossible to understand what it means to be black in America; yet my head tells me other truths; and they will never know what it’s like to not be black and live under siege by those who carry a generational chip on their shoulder over the shame of slavery and civil rights issues that happened decades and centuries ago. Both slaves and slavemasters have been dead for well over a century; yet their ghosts live on because of those who refuse to “let it go”.
When they look at Senator Obama, what do they see? A black man, running for president? When will race cease to matter? It’s not the color of his skin that frightens me; it’s the content of his character. It’s his far from the center and way to the left political ideology.
What is it that Cleopatra Nelson, the American voter in the photo, see and hear when she looks upon Senator Obama? The Once and Future reincarnation and second coming of JFK and MLK, rolled into one? It is romanticism and wishful thinking, that Senator Obama will be what many of his supporters wish him to be. Nothing in his past history tells me that he can unite the country, that he actually will lead as a centrist, willing to cross party lines and hear out the other side, in earnest, with an open mind and an open heart.
Senator Obama has acknowledged in flippant, casual passing- almost under his breath and very quickly so as not to dwell on it or have the words sink into people’s consciousness- some of the positives that occurred under President Bush; but the tone and substance of his clarion call is to divide this country by tarnishing and slandering the legacy of President Bush, because it serves him politically.
“In words, Obama is a uniter instead of a divider. In deeds, he’s spent years promoting polarization”– Thomas Sowell
A history filled with radicals, black liberation theology, Marxist/communist ideology….where’s the balance? Where’s the voting record that indicates to me, he is willing and able to come to the center and unite people?
“I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”
“my treatment of the issues is often partial and incomplete.”
–From the pages of The Audacity of Hope
Senator Obama is what his supporters hope him to be by projecting upon him, their hopes and dreams. But he is not what they need him to be. He symbolizes for them, an optimistic future and a turning of the page; but as he admits in his book, he is a blank slate upon which people can project what it is they want to see and believe about him.
Living in the Los Angeles area, I am awash in a sea of open-Obama support. Obama constituents freely wear their buttons, their t-shirts, and their bumperstickers without fear of ridicule out here.
It’s strange to see so much- not simply support, but energized adulation! Messiah-worship. There are politicians that I like; but even if I strongly admired any of them, I just can’t see myself wanting to express it by wearing a likeness on my shirt. It reminds me of the cult-like phenomenon of Che Guevara t-shirts.
A short collage I put together of Messiah-Worship:
REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.