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The Obama Infomercial: How To Grasp The Moment

October 30, 2008

Last night, my wife and two children sat in front of our television and watched something I never thought to be alive to see.  We saw an African-American on every major network (in Prime Time no less) station making the case for his election to the presidency of the United States of America.

Let me be clear, I believe that Barack Obama is the “BEST” candidate for this job. He’s not just African-American’s most eligible candidate – he’s the country’s most eligible candidate.  But the history of the moment should not escape us. 

I am awed.

In his work Democratic Vistas, Walt Whitman wrote:

“We have frequently printed the word Democracy, yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten, because that history has yet to be enacted.”

For many, these eloquent words of Whitman have rung too true. That Democracy (at least as it has been protrayed) has not been realized for them, that it remained “unawakened” for them, in a sort of arrested development – more dream than reality. The callous indifference of political leadership to the plight of its citizenry has beaten many down.

But today, Barack Obama’s campaign, his message – and yes, his very persona is evidence that change is on the wind. There is a a promise in everything that this campaign does whether it be commercial or rally that calls all of us to realize that we are in this together. That we are only as strong as we entreat those who are in the most need. As the write of the proverbs instructs:

“He who oppresses a poor man insults his maker. He who is kind to the needy honors him” -Proverbs 14:31

We are in a moment of profound realization, it appears to me.  Where we may realize the best of what our ideals have sought to establish, and shed our divisiveness.  We may do this on November 4th.  If, as I believe, we as a people decide to bury the divisions that have long corrupted our great nation, racism and classism, party and ideology. To take advantage of this great moment in history.  We must press these last days to realize the CHANGE we have long waited for.

But, there is a warning to be heeded, a warning delivered in the admonition of Frederick Douglass, more than a century ago.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thuder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters…Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it nevr will.”

If you have been lulled into a sense of security by the polls, know that POWER still only concedes when there is a DEMAND.  That demand is your voice, your voice is your vote. booth.


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