Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's speech and affirmative action

He talks about race, class, and religion, all in a very nuanced fashion. He feels the pain of both white working class voters and African Americans. And it should be noted that Obama is the only person who consistently addresses all Americans including African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans and American Indians, if only to say that there is no separate and distinct each of these, but that we are all part of America.

He talks about the power of hope, and the GOP ability to divide and conquer, our inability to see the corporation who left us and our families stranded as the problem versus the black family down the street, or to stop hating the white family who didn't perpetuate the "sins of slavery."

In all so many words, he basically talks of the Other and being the Other, but rejecting that label and declaring himself an American. As deeply part of the American fabric and story and dream. It's the kind of discussion that we would have in college after reading too many ethnic studies textbooks, only deeply personalized.

He draws on the ideals upon which our nation was founded, "we the people", "a more perfect Union", and blends it with a very 2008 understanding of how we relate to each other. I'll admit to crying while watch this speech, because it's unlike anything I've heard a politician say to a national audience in well, forever.

And if this speech doesn't cement him as being the more real and honest candidate, the candidate who you want to be, who you want leading this country, and making decisions, then I don't know who you would want. After these long years of Bush and his inability to speak or pronounce words, much less write a speech like this, well, I for one and looking forward to an Obama presidency.

One of the things that strikes me about Ferraro's comments that Obama wouldn't be here if he was a white man, implying that he is our presidential affirmative action candidate, well all I can say is - Obama vastly outguns, out-classes, and out-smarts everyone. He's a better candidate than Clinton, he's run a smarter campaign, and he's brought hope to a nation that needs it. Bringing it back to something I've opined on before (higher education) I will say however, that George W. Bush is the ultimate legacy. He's the ultimate frat boy who got into Harvard and Yale, who fucked around and acted the clown, drinking and doing god knows what drugs. He was given companies to run (which he ran into the ground), and then he was handed the presidency and stewardship of this country, which he has treated like his own personal piggybank. And now we lie here, broken into pieces, with the coins dribbling out, being ransacked by Bush's friends, not unlike some episode of Lil Bush (which is getting better and better.)

So is Obama the affirmative action candidate? I wouldn't bet your sweet life on it. There are so few politicians of any race or gender in this country who have his ability to orate and to move crowds. Unlike Bush, he worked hard and got into Harvard Law and became a community organizer. Instead of running companies, he built community strength.

In thinking about what DMX said in his interview, that basically, the nation is only giving a black guy the chance to run the country now that it's all fucked up, well I don't necessarily think he's wrong. Republicans have said as much - that the next 4 years are going to be a hellride, so why settle for McCain?

I think the country is sick of what a legacy president has done to us, and we are desperate for change. In the background is the economic insecurity, the shadows of a war that Bush started but doesn't plan to finish, the increasing sense that our nation is adrift and that clouds are looming ahead. It is in this context that Americans are willing to give the new guy a chance, like the fourth quarter of a basketball game where the home team is struggling and the starting roster is busted, played out and lackluster, unable to get the ball down the court. The forward has fouled out. The coach makes the decision to turn things over to the rookie b-baller, who has the chops to turn things around. That man is Barack Obama.



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