Monday, March 03, 2008

First Black President

As I'm sure everyone this side of Europe is aware, Barack Obama has gained an explosive amount of momentum in his quest for a Democratic Presidential nomination.  Unfortunately, I think a lot of folks, should he go on to win the presidency, are misguided in their thoughts concerning what a 'first black president' means.

If it does happen, it is without a doubt a great moment in history.  Years of struggle have led to this potential monstrous historical event.  An Obama presidency would provide validation for several people in terms of how far this country has come. 

To my dismay, though, I fear that an Obama win may be misleading on two counts.  I fear that too many blacks will be voting for Obama simply because he is black.  I voted for Obama as the nominee but not because of his race.  I have a very simple tenet in voting, I try to vote for somebody but I find I am usually voting against others.  In the democratic race, something about Hilary Clinton rubs me wrong.  I think I would have respected her more if she had stood up against Bill Clinton.  Now don't get me wrong, and this sounds hypocritical, I am a Bill Clinton fan -- at least during his presidency.  My reasons are purely selfish, my life seemed more affordable and less stressful when he was in office.  But for Hilary to stand by her man in the situation he got himself into, though somewhat noble at the time, seems like a very politically motivated move in hindsight.  And someone who would use their marriage as a political maneuver doesn't inspire trust from me.  I didn't want to vote Republican simply because the past eight years have not left me with a good taste in my mouth, kinda like Lewinsky.

Secondly, there are few examples in history where a U.S. president single-handedly changed the world.  Perusing the internet I'll see comments suggesting that a change is gonna come for my black sistas and brothas out there because now there's a black president.  It's not going to happen.  Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Obama will still have Congress, the Supreme Court, and state Governments to deal with.  Checks and balances -- learned it (or at least memorized it for the test) in high school.  Along these lines, we also have the possibility of unrealistic expectations.  If Obama wins and if the change that black folks (an undefined change by the way) expect doesn't occur, will that tarnish his legacy.  Worse, (and this goes for Hilary as well), will the unfulfilled expectations provide ammunition against the next black or women candidate.  'Well ya see what happened when let one of 'em in office last time' motto will become rampant. 

What initially made our form of government great is that leadership was elected based on common values, beliefs, and ideals.  Far too often these days, elections are driven by party affiliations and money.  And that makes it a bit difficult to vote and feel particularly confident. 

For the record, I will likely vote for Barack should he win the nomination because a fresh outlook is what I think our leadership needs right now.  If he doesn't win, I can't say for sure that I would simply vote Democrat for the sake of party affiliation.  Just can't do it......I kind of wish there was a black woman running so we could get the 'firsts' out of the way!

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