Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barak Obama

I'm reading the memoir of Barak Obama, "Dreams From My Father". It's pretty compelling reading. I haven't done a terrible amount of research about his voting record or the plans he is laying out for the future direction of this country. Based on the website,, I know that he is not the candidate who best represents my deepest concerns (Mike Gravel is). I have to say, though, that the idea of having a president who's had the life experiences that Barak has had fills me with excitement. If I can believe what he wrote in his memoir, he is a truth-seeking man who is willing to listen to his Inner Guide for answers. He does not seem to be afraid to confront the shadows that he finds within. He is troubled by his own arrogance and tries to move beyond himself to the greater good, it seems. He examines his own racist tendencies and his own biases. Throughout his life, he has been an outsider learning to adapt. He seems to know not to make too many assumptions about people or situations. He seems, in many ways, the exact opposite of our current president who, to me, exemplifies the "ugly American".

I know that Hillary has had her own challenges. I would imagine that, in some ways, her experiences and my own are more similar than those of Barak and myself. I know she gets called a bitch and many worse things for doing a "man's" job in a man's world. I know she's seen as power-hungry. I know that people have discounted her and not listened to her because she is a woman. I know she has been judged for every move she made as First Lady. In some ways, I really respect her for some of the changes she tried to make happen (health care reform comes first to mind). And I do love the thought of having a woman leading our country. But, mostly she seems to be a politician concerned about being elected more than standing for values I hold most dear. I just don't feel as good about Hillary the individual as our president as I do about Barak.

Maybe I should read Hillary's book, "Living History" to hear her "voice" as well. (I just looked it up. It's 562 pages, which makes it much less likely that I will read it).

Maybe I'm naive to believe a book written by a politician. But he wrote the book more than a decade ago and talked about things that have the potential to really hurt him (his father being raised Muslim, Barak's drug use as a teenager, his mother's multiple marriages to foreign men). He writes openly about racism in our country, a subject which is almost taboo.

Ours is a country divided by the color of skin which those with the lightest skin and most power refuse to acknowledge. Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, the Williams sisters in tennis, Denzel Washington, and Tiger Woods. They prove that there is no excuse any more to whine about racism, right? Right.


I don't think having a president who is American and African will solve the deep wounds of racism in our country but I think it would certainly be a step. I think having Barak as president would force us to have to discuss the rampaging elephant in the room.

I have to admit that I would worry for his safely more than Hillary or another person filling the position.

And I'm aware that John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel all represent my concerns better than Barak and Hillary. I just don't think that they have a chance to win. Whoever wins the presidency will have a huge job fixing the wrongs of our country. I'm realistic enough to know that at least half the people are ready for change and for history to be made and a white guy just isn't going to do that for us (which, I realize, is it's own kind of bias). I'm not saying that I am committed to supporting Barak Obama; I still need to learn more about him to make that decision. I do like what I've learned, so far.

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