Wednesday, June 4, 2008

(Maybe) We Can!

So, the day has finally come.

As a libertarian/fiscal conservative, I can't say I'm particularly pleased with Barack Obama's domestic policies, to be mild. Furthermore, I am greatly concerned about the enlarged role of the Executive branch in American government and do not want some messianic political force to occupy its head and increase its already bloated capacity.

That said, I am absolutely thrilled that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination. And yes, it's because I'm black.

The reason is simple: as absurd as the idea is that parents tell their children they can grow up to be whatever they want (regardless of their abilty)--even President of the United States--such an idea has been an almost laughable fantasy to black children. No matter how smart, how gifted, or how popular any black person could be, he/she would always be black and therefore automatically disqualified for leadership of their own country. No one said it, but it never needed to be.

Thus, to a black person, race has forever been an inherently limiting factor to how much he or she can even hope to succeed--because their native country judges them, collectively, as less-than-worthy.

To illustrate my point, I am reminded of one class I took in college. A fellow black classmate said in open discussion that he didn't know he could go to college until he was a sophomore in high school. He was an obviously bright and thoughtful young man, but had to be told in his teen years that college was an option for him--he didn't think he was 'college material'. He is the black America that needs someone like Obama--that stand as a testament that a black person can succeed to become (for better or worse, given the aforementioned state of the Executive) the most powerful individual on Earth--and be elected to it. Personal achievement will not come so long as a group of individuals feel limited before they even get out of the gate.

Will Obama's nomination or election solve the problems of the black underclass, or even the continued prejudice experienced by the black middle class? No. But legitimate proof that a black man can overcome the prevelant view of his race lessens the subtle, but very real, limitations black people feel. Children of all races may grow up for the next 4-8 years with a black man as the foremost representative of their country. If that happens, and Obama carries himself and governs his office in an effective, judicious, and positive way, many people may grow up admiring him and thereby decrease the negative perceptions of black people as a collective, rather than judging us individually.

I understand that this hope is far-fetched and idealistic--but if you were to tell my 80 year old father he'd live to see a black nominee on a major party ticket when he was my age, he's have laughed at you--considering that the Voting Rights Act wouldn't be signed for another half-decade. Far-fetched and idealistic is pretty much all we've ever had. (Notice, such an outlook also applies to libertarians.)

So, while there is plenty to fear from an Obama presidency, I can say right now that I am very proud of him for what he has been able to do. I hope he 'does us proud'--in spite of the fact that, in all probability, an Obama presidency will largely be a disappointment.

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