Barack Hussein Obama. No, I am not making that name up, yes he does have HUSSEIN as his middle name and a last name that rhymes with Osama. And oh yeah, by the way, his father hails from an East African nation (Kenya). We all know that the US hasn’t had a great history with East Africa (i.e. Somalia). Anyways, Barack Obama interestingly enough will run for the Democratic candidacy for presidency in 2008. I have had my doubts about Obama, especially considering his inexperience in political office and his relative youth and checkered past. He has admittedly used various drugs such as cocaine (or “blow” as he describes in one of his previous best-selling books) and marijuana, and admittedly still hasn’t completely kicked the habit of smoking to the curb. I recently saw the Illinois senator on 60 minutes and came away impressed by him. He has not tried to cover up his past or his heritage, instead embracing the very things about him that will be scrutinized and criticized over the coming years.
He hasn’t run from anything and has yet to play the race card, and for simply that alone I applaud him. I think that he is a longshot right now. I think that he needs close to 80% of the black vote to stand a solid chance, but as of right now, Hilary Clinton has nearly 3 times as much support as Obama does in the black community (courtesy of various polls). Either way, Obama is primarily known as a charismatic and motivational speaker. He is known as a strong, unrelenting personality who can move and uplift people with his words. He is being hailed by some as the black JFK. I don’t know if the comparison is fair, but what I can say is that he has that presidential aura about him, that uncanny ability to invoke admiration, respect, and a sense of security from those he presides over and speaks to – something that our current president hasn’t been able to exhibit during his term in office. He seems undaunted by the daunting task he has ahead. He is working from the bottom and still has yet to be taken serious by everyone yet.
His heritage (half-black, half-American) has also been under scrutiny, but not by who you would think it would be by. A lot of black leaders have been split on whether to consider Obama as “black”, saying that he is of East-African descent and therefore, isn’t “black” in the American sense of the word. Some people in the black community feel that only those of West-African descent are truly considered black, because they are the descendants of the slaves that were brought here hundreds of years ago. That, to me, is ludicrous. First off, if you are a black person and would like to see a member of your ethnic group, a citizen of your minority to lead this country, you must universally accept this man as a part of your group. I understand the confusion and frustration because this is an awkward position to put the black community in, but you must accept this man, a man who has claimed himself as black, and welcome him with open arms. This DOES NOT mean that you vote for him solely on the fact that he is black, because that would undermine the entire concept of being a knowledgeable voter and would ultimately cast the black vote as an ignorant, thoughtless vote.
What I do know is that Obama seems to be saying all the right things and has a charismatic and intelligent presence. As a man, I respect him and think that he is strong and intelligent enough to lead this country. Now, I want to see his policies and his view on certain issues such as homosexuality, health care, education, etc. He is one of the few politicians who was against the war in Iraq before the war and has stuck to that. I don’t see him waffling on that point. I think he will hold steadfast to his initiative to withdraw troops if he is elected into office. The democratic party has come out and emphasized it’s anti-war initiatives, so Obama falls right in line with that perspective. Obama is an interesting character to watch over the course of the next two years, I want to see how his campaign will play out and if he truly will be a legitimate candidate come 2008. I think that Obama may have the best chance of any candidate ever to become the first minority president of the melting pot we call the United States.