Whenever I hear Hillary Clinton’s theme, “What I can do for America”, it irks me like a jolt of electricity. I don’t want anybody to do anything for me. That’s how we got stigmatized with being lazy and always looking for a government handout… too many bleeding heart liberals trying to do something for the poor.
Whenever I hear Barack Obama’s theme, “What we can do together for the future of America”, I feel like part of a body of people working together to solve our common problems, including the problems of poverty. I feel empowered, rather than dependent upon someone “doing for me” what I can do for myself with the right President.
I can relate to Barack Obama, first as a community activist, who grew up in the ‘hood, born to mixed parentage, abandoned by his father, raised by a grandmother on Social Security, and coming up through the ranks of poverty, overcoming all obstacles in his way… a man with the audacity to hope of someday becoming the President of the United States.
I am sure that the other presidential candidates are good and noble people. But they cannot touch every strata of society, from the top to the bottom, like Barack Obama.
I was reading the latest Obama interview in Ebony magazine (March 2008), where Sylvester Monroe asked the presidential hopeful about his past and hope for the future.
“As an organizer working in low-income neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, as a civil rights attorney dealing with voting rights and employment-rights case, as a state senator providing health care, passing racial-profiling legislation, reforming a criminal justice system that was broken, as a United States senator dealing with everything from Katrina to providing second-chance legislation for ex-offenders… There’s nobody in this race who has taken on the kinds of issues I have taken on…” (Barack Obama)
What to do about violence and crime in low-income African-American communities?
“We can enforce our gun laws more effectively to keep hand-guns off the streets. We can set up after-school programs and summer programs so that young children have a safe place to go… I am convinced that if we can get our children off to a better start they are less likely to slip into crime and violence… We have to have a system to deal with ex-offenders, providing them transitional jobs and social services so they can reintegrate into society… we are still going to have violence, but I think we will see a reduction in violence and we set the stage then for more effective economic opportunity. There is no president who can change things overnight, but he can set us on the right trajectory.”
Sylvester Monroe: What about guns?
“We are not going to ban handguns. But what we can do is much more effectively enforce laws that trace who is dumping guns into these neighborhoods. These gangbangers on the streets of Englewood or Lawndale in Chicago are not going into some licensed gun dealer and buying these guns. Those guns are in the back of a van or in a trunk that are being dumped in our communities. Where’s the point of origin? We can trace that back, and we can hold those folks accountable. But we just have not had a commitment from the president of the United States to ensure that law enforcement can do that. The next president has to speak directly to parents and to the youth about discouraging violence. And, I believe I can do that more effectively than anybody.
“I mentioned that the world will look at us differently. America will look at itself differently the day I am inaugurated.”
It would be a comforting thought to know that I could leave this world with a President who understands the problems I see, and who is not afraid to roll up his sleeve and go back into the ‘hood, speaking to parents and youth, about how they can help themselves solve their own problems.
I don’t think Hillary Clinton get it. And, I think John McCain’s head is still in the cloud somewhere over Vietnam.
Barack Obama: We Need You, Texas
Yes We Can