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Obama Speech on Race

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on vision and introduced Woodrow Wilson as a visionary.  Several of my readers were quite disturbed that I, as a person of African descent, could list Woodrow Wilson, who established official racial segregation in the federal government during his administration, as a VISIONARY.   

Creating the League of Nations and shaping the Treaty of Versailles was visionary.  It was visionary to see the need to enter World War I to “Make the World Safe for Demacracy”.   Yes, I know that he was a segregationist, but we must look at the whole man and not a fragment.   

Race is a topic that we never like to discuss, but it’s always the elephant in the room.  This is unfortunate, but it is a core element of our society.  I had to evolve to this notion, but I look at race like I look at the flowers in my garden or the different dogs at a dog show.  Those of you who know me know how much I love my dogs and my orchids.  We have a variety of people with different hues, shapes, eye color like we have different breeds of dogs and different types of flowers.  I realize that this seems somewhat simplified, but what can I say.  Is a Rose superior to an Iris or a beagle to a daschund.  I think not.  They are only different.   

I hope and pray that we as Americans will not miss the opportunity to let a fragment of who we have been define the whole of who we are. 

I think that the Obama speech speaks to who we have been and who we can become.  

I have the video of the speech in the Vodpod collection, but I think that it would be extremely beneficial to read the transcript of the speech.  

OBAMA SPEECH

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.  

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least 20 more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.

I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story. I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate.

But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans. This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign.

At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough”. We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarisation, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy.

For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic healthcare crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than 20 years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a US Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over 30 years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters … And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world.

Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about … memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”That has been my experience at Trinity.

Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding and baptised my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork.

We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias. But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like healthcare, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote: “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country.

But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, 50 years after Brown v Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalised discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations.

That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late ’50s and early ’60s, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted.

What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future.

Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews.

The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.

So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time. Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation.

Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.

And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognising they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.  

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs – to the larger aspirations of all Americans – the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old – is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past.

But what we know – what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination – and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past – are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.

It requires all Americans to realise that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper. In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well. For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina – or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathise with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.We can do that.But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change. That is one option.

Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say: “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children.

This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st-century economy.

Not this time. This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have healthcare; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorised and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for president if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.

And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta. There is a young, 23-year-old white woman named Ashley Baia who organised for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organise a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there. And Ashley said that when she was 9 years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her healthcare. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat. She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign.

They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say healthcare or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.” “I’m here because of Ashley.”

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give healthcare to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realise over the course of the 221 years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.   

VISION……An essential leadership quality

 Leaders possess a clear vision of the future.  They must be able to look beyond where we are today.  All their decisions are in alignment with their over-riding objectives and they move in that direction. 

As I have stated before, this is not a political blog, even though I discuss issues from a political perspective.  My intention is to submit the use of politics as the mechanism for continued transformation of our planet and ourselves.  I was unaware when I began the blog that there would be several events that would culminate to allow me to clarify this purpose for myself. 

One has been the rise of Barack Obama and the other, the introduction to the book, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.   

I have been trying to wrap my thoughts around what is in the mind of the American populous this election year.  The pundits, the establishment and the news media appear to be perplexed.  Even some of the candidates.  They have referred to Barack Obama’s campaign as a movement.  They have caricatured him as the messiah presenting a false hope.   

The caricature is what caught my attention however and deeply saddened me.  I begin to realize what was happening.  I personally never expected to see a person of African descent as a serious candidate for the President of the United States in my lifetime. I am 45 years old. Now, before you jump all over me, let me explain.  In this country, we have come a long way on the matter of race.  Some may disagree with me but, I personally think that we have.  I am from the South and am of African descent also.  The reason that I could not imagine that there could be a serious candidate of African descent speaks to my own personal lack of vision, my own limitations.  I say all of this because not only does it not matter in any form or fashion that Mr. Obama can be described this way, but we as a public are not even seeing him in this light.  Now how could this be? 

I would like to submit that it is not so much, Mr Obama that is making the difference here, but it is the masses…….We the people.  We are the one’s that should be the subject of our own AWE.  WHAT WE ARE DEMONSTATING IS VISION.   

This is what was so sad about all of the caricature from the pundits, the other candidates, and the press.  These people seemed to lack the ABILITY to even see beyond our present state of existence.  They could not envision a politics not driven by lobbyist and money.  They could not envision a country that was strong and powerful but not superior.  They could not even envision a people that would want to work towards that.  They could not envision a people not driven by IDENTITY politics, nor could I.  I was WRONG. 

Possessing VISION is an essential leadership quality that we have lacked since John F Kennedy.  Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson all possessed incredible vision that inspired US to transform the grim realities of the time. 

It is the VISION that we are connecting to in Barack Obama and not his ancestry that is driving his momentum.  We can see the promised land that Mr. Obama speaks of and because we can envision this, we can create this.  CHANGE must be internal before it is external. 

If the structures of the human mind remain unchanged, we will always end up re-creating fundamentally the same world, the same evils, the same dysfunction.  Collective human consciousness and life on our planet are intrinsically connected.  “A new heaven” is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and “a new earth” is its reflection in the physical realm.  Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

The Potomac Primaries – Simply Evolve

The overarching variable in this election is exhaustion.  Exhaustion from lies, back room dealing, lack of ethical behavior and out and out criminal behavior.  I have been pleased with my choices of candidates in this election.  I feel for Senator Clinton because I realize that she just does not understand why she is not faring better in this election. She should not take it personally however.             

The “everyman”, regardless of party, gender, race, age, Dunkin Doughnuts or Starbucks crowd and what ever other box that the people who think they know put us in, is simply tired.  We are beginning to WAKE UP.  We are beginning to understand the “game” as it is described by the pundits. 

We want someone with their own mind in Washington, DC.  They don’t have to do everything exactly as we say, but they do need to act like they know that they work for US, the CITIZENS of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA and not conglomerates, corporations, or extremist of either kind.  They need to present us with the challenges and let us demonstrate that we truly are the greatest nation in the world because of the ideals and values that we say we believe in. 

We want to participate in our Democracy.  We want someone with vision and someone who expects something from us, instead of dividing us and stealing from all of us.            

I personally have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton and Ex- President Clinton, but I will be voting for either Barack Obama or John McCain in November.  That is because I do not want to wake up the day after the election to more of the same nightmare that we have faced for the last 30 years.  Let me at least experience a new dream or at least a different nightmare.          

Both of these people appear to go against the grain.  I do not want a safe bet, the same tactics, or the same people.  Yes, I still have concerns with each of these people. 

I am concerned who John McCain would put in his cabinet.  I trust him to not spend taxpayer dollars like he has lost his mind and I trust him not to pull us out of IRAQ too quickly.  Even though the current administration lied us into the war, we still owe it to IRAQ and the region to assist in cleaning up the mess that we made.            

I trust that Barack Obama will simply change the way that we conduct business.  He will respect the rights of other countries and value their sovereignty.  He will push diplomacy and community in this country as well as the world. 

          Senator Clinton on the other hand has programs from A to Z.  She knows bureaucracy.  We cannot legislate our evolution. 

 WE MUST SIMPLY EVOLVE !!!!!!  

     TRANSFORM OUR THINKING !!!!!          

Media Mine Field in the 2008 election

Well, now it begins.   It’s time for all thoughtful citizens to navigate the media mine fields for the 2008 election.  I watch a lot of television and listen to a ton of radio during presidential elections and it always amazes me how the media will focus on everything but the issues.  They remind me of maggots on a dead carcass. Now, I know that is a horrible visual, but I wanted to make sure that the point was made.  Our democracy is the dead carcass.     

It will be especially crucial in this particular election to educate ourselves on where the candidates stand on issues and who they are as people.  There are numerous places that one can go to get this information, beginning with the candidate’s websites.  This blog has links to places like the NY times political page with links to all of the candidate’s websites.  Project Vote Smart is another helpful place to go and get information.  Check the facts at “Fact Check”.  Go to the political information section of this blog.  

I bring this up because being an informed citizen is the least that we can do for the country that we all claim to love and be proud of.   So once again, let’s come in off of the playgrounds and stop being herded like sheep by the pundits, media, and focus groups.  Let us be thoughtful, rational beings that can and do connect the dots.  

 THINK 

THINK 

THINK 

CHANGE vs EXPERIENCE

I have been quiet lately due to the fact that I have been overwhelmed by the history taking place in front of me.  It is the obvious historical inclusion of a woman, a Hispanic, a Mormon, and an African American running for the position of President of the United States.  The greater historical event and by far, most significant, is the activity of the population of the country.  Those that will participate in the election and those that will not.   

It has been described as a movement that surrounds Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee.  In spite of lack of money or ethnic make up, these two individuals are making a stand in this race.  Why is this so?  

I would submit that it is the masses of people that have arrived at the breaking point at the same time, all the events that have taken place over the last seven years that have challenged and changed the “every man”.   

I don’t know if you have heard the phrase, “you will until you won’t, and you do until you don’t”.  This phrase has always represented the “tipping point” for me … the point of equilibrium that is reached due to the preceding chaos of creation that has occurred. 

As I wrote in a post on January 1, 2008, I am ready to take responsibility for the change that I want to see in the world.  This is and has been the only primary election year in my life that I have ever looked at my choices and felt that I actually had a choice.  There are probably only two people on the Republican or Democratic side that I would never vote for or want them to win the election and the second person just recently put themselves on that list. Most of the candidates who are running in this election are people that I have held in the highest regard throughout the years for their service to this country and their accomplishments.   

That brings me to the EXPERIENCE vs. CHANGE argument.  One of the things that comforted me in the George W Bush administration was all of the experience that we had in the cabinet appointments.  I didn’t agree with Mr. Bush on issues or particularly care for his personality, experience or resume, but I looked at the people that he surrounded himself with and they were seasoned, thoughtful, intelligent people who had accomplished much in their careers.  I trusted the EXPERIENCE.   How bad could this be after all?  These were all people who have been in government for years with a wealth of knowledge and experience.   

So what happened?  I personally believe that these people placed their EXPERIENCE and REPUTATION before the health and security of our country.  They did not listen, hear or see any thing.  They were unchangeable and inflexible due too all of the things that they THOUGHT THAT THEY KNEW BASED ON THEIR EXPERIENCE.   

This is why I personally am going to harness whatever COURAGE that is within ME and as Bill Clinton says, “toss the dice, believe in the fairy tale”.  I made the rational, logical, conservative move last time and look what that got me.   

I have reached the “TIPPING POINT”.

I want in my next President, flexibility, the ability to think outside of the box and not depend on the usual solutions to problems that we have been dealing with for years.  I want in my next President, someone who is objective driven and will work with whoever it takes to meet a set of objectives and present me, the people, solutions.  I want a President who will be honest with me even when I do not like what I am hearing.

I want a President who believes in the United States of America, the People, the Democracy. 

The Candidates on EDUCATION

A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to Farce or Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.”  

   

James Madison (1788) 

According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education: 

“In 2003, U.S. performance in mathematics literacy and problem solving was lower than the average performance for most OECD countries. The United States also performed below the OECD average on each mathematics literacy subscale representing a specific content area (space and shape, change and relationships, quantity, and uncertainty). There were no measurable changes in the U.S. scores from 2000 to 2003 on either the space and shape subscale or the change and relationships subscale, the only content areas for which trend data from 2000 to 2003 are available. In both 2000 and 2003, about two-thirds of the other participating OECD countries outperformed the United States in these content areas. In 2003, males outperformed females in mathematics literacy in the United States and in two-thirds of the other countries”. 

An issue that is at the top of my list for rating candidates in the 2008 election is EDUCATION.  While I freely acknowledge the threat of terrorism in the world, the challenges facing US global competiveness has the potential to affect my day to day activities to a much greater degree than Bin Laden.  

The Republicans focus on parental choice, “No Child Left Behind”, and testing.  Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee presented comprehensive plans supporting these ideas. 

On the Democratic side, Bill Richardson, Barack Obama and Joe Biden presented the most visionary plans.  John Edwards and Chris Dodd also stood apart with plans to reform “No Child Left Behind”, expanding national preschool, and making college affordable.   

Bill Richardson was the only candidate that said that he would do away with “No Child Left Behind”.  Richardson approached this issue with a broad brush which included the following: 

  • Create 250 Math, Science, and Innovation (MSI) Academies

  • Beyond School: The Richardson Plan for Promoting Life-Long Learning and Adult Education

  • Oppose Private School Tuition Vouchers, Increase Public School Choice

Barack Obama focused on more of the structural barriers to education such as attracting, retaining and supporting good teachers.  He also addressed our math and science deficits.  Joe Biden addressed teacher retention but also focused on moving from a twelve year system toward a sixteen year system.

 I rank the candidates on this issue:

  1. Bill Richardson 

  2. Barack Obama 

  3. Joe Biden 

  4. John Edwards 

  5. Chris Dodd 

  6. Mitt Romney 

  7. Mike Huckabee

   

NPR Democratic debate

The NPR Democratic debate in Iowa was a smashing success.  I personally think that this format allowed in depth discussion and rebuttal from the candidates.  The moderators, Robert Siegel, Michele Norris, and Steve Inskeep of NPR posed thoughtful and serious questions.  The topics were narrowed down to three: Iran, Immigration, and China.   

The ideas of Dennis Kucinich on the enormous trade deficit with China that is funding the Iraq war and his consistent stance against the war in Iraq were front and center.  I am beginning to take him more seriously.  Many of his positions have been seen as extreme left wing positions in the past but are beginning to be at least discussed by the “mainstream candidates”.  He is one of the candidates, along with Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and Chris Dodd who present ideas outside of the box.    

Hillary Clinton did not fare well with a discussion regarding Iran and the just released NIE. Joe Biden described the designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization as self defeating because we continue to alienate the rest of the world. 

Biden, Dodd, and Kucinich always present the most consistent views on foreign policy along with Bill Richardson who was not present at this debate.   

I hope that you will take the opportunity to listen to the debate or read the transcript. 

Thanks to NPR