Complex is the first word that came to mind while witnessing the Obama launch spectacle on Thursday night in D’Town. In a scene smack out of a Cecil B. DeMille epic movie, our hero extolled the virtues of the Republic while standing on a stage in a Coliseum.
In case you missed it, the backdrop was an ersatz Greco-Roman affair, pillars and all. It is true that if one were to attempt to salvage a Republic it would be in the midst of a nation bent on Empire. Then again, you would not parade around a bunch of military commanders if you were for peace not war, or would you. Barack Obama did just that on the last night of the Democratic Convention. Behind the public face of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama lays the conundrum of a leader who would be all things to all people.
America is a divided country. Recent presidential elections bear witness to that. Not so, said Barack Obama on Thursday night last. Mr. Obama proclaimed that there are no Democrats and Republicans; there are only Americans of differing circumstances. It was an echo of the red, white, and blue speech that catapulted him to the top of the political heap only four short years ago. Now that I have spent a week saturated in his vision, his organization, and his iconic promotion of both, I have slowly come to a better understanding of what he believes and what makes Obama run.
It has been said that Obama will be the first black president. He will be, sort of. He will also be the next white president, sort of. He will be the first president from the generation following the Baby Boomers, maybe. In fact, by most definitions he is a baby boomer - anyone born between 1946 and 1964. So he is of my generation and kind of not really part of us in his mind as you discover by perusing his marketing plan. What is the truth of Barack Obama then?
What should we make of all of this complexity? The answer is that within these contradictions lie the rub and the key to our man Obama.
Our motherly apparition of Monday night became poignantly real on Thursday. There she was, with that Mona Lisa smile. Together, all 84,000 0f us, we heard Barack’s remembrance of his mother, S. Ann Dunham Soetro as pictures from the family album were presented on the jumbo screens above the stadium. It was warm, sad, touching and much more. Ann Dunham crossed the racial divide when she married Barack’s father, who was a student from Kenya. Barack Sr. left them after two years and went back to Kenya. Subsequently, she married Lolo Soetoro and took Barack with her to Indonesia for five years where he attended both a Catholic and a Muslim school, thus crossing several more cultural divides.
Eventually Barack went to live in Hawaii with his maternal grandparents. Not growing up in a monochrome world, infused our man of the hour with a permanent need to reconcile all sides of every irreconcilable issue. It also left him with a lack of decisiveness at critical junctures in governance when you can’t make everyone happy. His non-voting record on a myriad of tough decisions in Illinois and DC are proof of his calculating ways.
We have seen Obama’s style of politics before. Bill Clinton was the master of getting ahead by attempting to have it both ways. He and his DLC crew presented themselves as “Third Way Progressives” - an oxymoron of particular peckishness. No third way exists in politics. That is exactly what “progressive” politics was designed to combat - standing for nothing and falling for everything. Progressive policy is “Left Turn Only”. We will eventually discover if Obama is in fact a disciple of this DLC equivocating.
Standing in Invesco Field, immersed in flags waved in automaton unison, the fireworks evocation of bombs bursting in air, the Protestant remonstrations to secular professions, the chanting of pithy slogans, the generals on parade and the massive pent up desire for hope, change and something to believe in, we were awash in the heady bromide of American incurable romanticism.
Americans are especially romantic about the truth concerning themselves. In this obfuscating cloud of emotions, we can easily be manipulated by those who would make us believe we are going forward, only to pick our pockets while we go nowhere. It is the oldest story in America - the Great Huckster.
I am looking forward to believing in the hope for change. It would be good for all concerned if this is the change it advertises itself as. Realize though, that if we elect Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joe Biden, we will have to do our job. Our prodigious job, as citizens, is to be ever vigilant and demand better from our government.
If our government fails us, we must beat it like a rented mule, as they used to say in the Midwest. If it continues to fail to respond then we must replace it, as Jefferson exhorted us to do. As he attempts to cross the great divides among us, Mr. Obama will soon discover that you can’t have it both ways at the same time. Leadership is the tough-mindedness to make enemies as well as friends, in the name of the common good, in favor of citizens rather than corporate Cronies.
Here’s hoping that Mr. Obama gives up the Cheshire cat act and delivers. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
-- by Brad Parker
Brad Parker is an award winning artist, songwriter, producer and musician. He has recorded, toured and produced hits in North America, Europe and Asia. Parker owns Indie label Riozen records and is a co-founder of "muzlink.com". Brad is a prolific political writer and speaker as well. Parker is very involved with Democratic political organizations including: President, Valley Democrats United, Vice President, Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, Platform Committee of the California Democratic Party and Delegate, CDP Central Committee from the 42nd Assembly District.
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