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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Mr. Moser has written a keenly insightful ground-up view of how the quandarythat Mr. Obama and his "blackness" or lack thereof as some perceive ithas impacted the most critical presidential race of the last forty years.Given the state of domestic and world affairs today, this election willset the stage for what is to come in the post debacle of the Bush years.

The battle of Hill v. Obama knocks squarely against our coming of age inthe battle for and winning of the ultimate political prize, the WhiteHouse. In all the history of this republic, neither a woman nor black orother person of color for that matter has claimed the presidentialchair. For black Americans, this aspiration and winning it would be theultimate vindication and justice served for all the wrongs suffered byblacks upon their non-consenting arrival in 1554, as Phyllis Carter,quoted in the article, suggested. In addition, that deep-seated fearamong blacks that even if Obama won he would be killed before he couldserve is not totally unrealistic. The recent events in Jena, Louisiana,and other egregious injustices suffered by blacks, particularly in thecriminal justice system, are constant reminders that equality is yetdeferred.

However, the post civil rights era has erased the memory of the"regular" lynching of black men in the South and the daily humiliationof Jim Crow subjugation, opening the way for a "new" blackness to emergethat Obama wears well as a bi-racial Harvard educated lawyer. He perhapsis the end product of the "blackness" that means acceptance through thebest of assimilation to the mainstream. Yet the facts of black life inAmerica dictate that self-interest versus the interest of "all thepeople" is still critical. This is where the quandary lies.

Ms. Clinton, battle-tested through decades of political life andbenefiting from the popularity of her husband, represents the most likelyopportunity to date for a woman to actually win. Clinton and Obama arecompeting in the age of super-corporate elections where one's ability toraise millions from special interest determines one's place at the table.For both this is problematic, because the people's interest by defaultand design are compromised. There is ample evidence of this in theirrhetoric on issues from health care to Iraq. Both their health careplans retain a major market share for private insurers and neither wantsall troops home from Iraq or no bases there. Their economic and jobsrevitalization program proposals are scant.

Others quoted in the article mention Kucinich and Edwards asalternatives, due to his voting record matching his words in the case ofKucinich and the sincerity perceived in Edwards, a self-made millionairewho does not need corporate cash to supplement his income. In the mind of many blacks Mr. Obama's hue may still be too great a liability in the America of 2007 to make gains for themselves, families and communities in such perilous times as these. The old saying "go with the devil you know" may now include but "say aprayer for the dream."

Sherletta McCaskill

New York, NY

Dec 30 2007 - 8:42am

Web Letter

Many say they believe experience is the defining issue, without qualifying it. Every individual has experience. But unless that experience translates into wise decision-making based on sound judgment, it is useless. Obama's experience working in the trenches as a community organizer dealing with people with intractable demands and resolving problematic situations provided invaluable insight and knowledge that has been tried, tested and true, which gives me confidence in his leadership and problem-solving skills.

Obama's strengths--including sound judgment tempered with intelligence, a sense of balance and justice--are admirable qualities, not readily seen in the other candidates. In stark contrast to the cookie-cutter-type answers most politicians give, Obama's are measured and thoughtful. Patience and reasoned logic indicates someone who is responsive rather than reactive. The current Administration's reactive policies proved ineffective and dangerous. And after seven years of that, the nation is more than ready for change.

Experience is not an end in itself. Although Obama has plenty of experience, it is his judgment that makes him stand out from the rest of the contenders. Instead of using military power, Obama is more apt to utilize a host of tools available that actually solve problems rather than create more. What a welcomed change.

A commitment to competent governance necessitates objective reality. Pure politics, ideology and/or party loyalty create false narratives. Some claiming to care about people are only paying lip service. However, organizing poor neighborhoods, taking on genocide in Darfur, opposing military action in Iraq are proof Obama is a man who acts on his convictions.

Furthermore, not only does he appear to understand that the complexity of the issues challenging the nation requires someone with communication, negotiation and diplomacy skills, Obama has those skills. Equally important, with his sincere desire and yearning to lead the country in a different direction, Obama can and will do so successfully, given the opportunity.

Mindy Huie

Dallas, TX

Dec 26 2007 - 5:20pm

Web Letter

It makes me sad to think that a black person would not vote for Barack Obama because they're scared that he either couldn't win because of his race or would be a target of violence because of his race. This is self-defeating in a really harmful and cynical way. I truly believe that we as a nation have moved past the kind of racism that could cause this to happen.

I think Obama has led a unique life that allows him to understand and appeal to both black and white America. There will always be some in either camp that will be unsatisfied, but compared to any other current candidate, he has the experience and ability to empathize with the average member of either group.

Howard Tumnus

Unadilla, NY

Dec 22 2007 - 1:57am

Web Letter

As just one of the several dozen ethnic groups in America, reading about "the fractured state of black politics" reminds me of the fractured state of white politics.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, AP

Dec 21 2007 - 12:54am

Web Letter

Obama once said that if he lost the election it would not be because of color but because of his ideas. Since he is one of the top two in the Democratic Presidential primary, I think he is right. Whatever your opinion of him, the fact that he is a serious candidate is a positive result of the civil rights movement in America. He is part of Martin Luther King's dream for the future. He is a part of America's dream for itself! But as an "ordinary" politician, you have to look at the candidate himself and his ideas. Everybody needs to be judged by his or her own character and ideas. Treat him as a human being and not by a stereotypical view of his appearance. It was Martin Luther King's Dream, and it is America's dream for the future.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Dec 20 2007 - 3:53pm

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