The Times, They Are A-Changin’

October 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm 2 comments

Friends have asked me why I have been so interested in this year’s U.S. election. This is why:

Washington, DC
August 28, 1963

Dr. Martin Luther King was introduced as “the moral leader of our nation” to a crowd of 250,000 civil rights workers on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

I Have A Dream

St. Louis, Missouri
October 18, 2008 (45 years later)

Barack Obama speaks to a crowd of 100,000 by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, as the first black Presidential candidate, and very likely the first black President of the United States.

History is being made.  It’s rare that you can watch an event unfold and feel the full weight of its future importance as it is occurring.  Perhaps the moon landing was another time.  I remember gathering with my mom, dad and brother around the black & white TV up in Capreol, Ontario, bunny ears on top and nickel-belt rock under it (for better reception, doncha’ know!), to watch the U.S. put three men on the moon.  And now, 40 years later, I’m hopeful that I’m about to see them put a black man in the White House.

This is one of those times that you can watch and see the events of a generation leading a nation to the cusp of achieving an objective that millions of people fought and died for.  Watching MLK here and thinking about the civil rights movement of the 60s, even at the same time as I watch racist hatred still being spewed during this campaign in 2008, makes me realize that this is one of the hardest-won battles in the history of the U.S., and it has still not been won even if Obama is elected.  Thus, though I do not pray to a God, I pray that in one respect, history is not about to be repeated.

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Personal Landscapes Colin Powell Endorses Obama: The Photo

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gwen  |  October 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    I have never been more tuned in to the presidential campaigns than I am right now. It took a while for Barack Obama to win me over…and, that’s because he is a black man. It’s very strange, but we’re a little less trusting of our own than we are of other races. I don’t know why that is…but, it is. Anyway, I sat back, watched, and observed. How capable is he of handling our country? Very much so.

    John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate started to push me in Obama’s direction, then that intense negativity they started only succeeded in turning me into a full-fledged Obama supporter.

    I’ve watched both campaigns, and I’ll tell you that the intense hatred is appalling. It terrifies me a little, if I’m being honest. Where have these people been hiding? Or, have they been here all along? The Republican campaign tactics have only put a bright light on the ugliness of this country. I can only imagine what other parts of the world are saying about us.

    I’m sure you’ve already heard by now, but General Colin Powell endorsed Senator Obama this morning. However, he gave an interesting illustration about a picture he had seen in a magazine. It was a picture of a mother posing at her son’s gravestone. Twenty-year-old Kareem Rashad Sultan, an American-born Muslim, had died in the Iraqi war…a Muslim, fighting for the rights of Americans. Yet, we see people spewing hot hatred and bitterness toward those very people. What kind of message is being sent out to these people who work alongside us, whose children go to our schools, who pay taxes with the rest of us?

    The times are definitely changing. I mean, I can literally feel it in the air. I’m both anticipatory and apprehensive. I have no doubt that Barack Obama is the man for the job. But, can he bring this divided country together?

    Reply
  • 2. zennifer516  |  October 19, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Hi, Gwen!

    Check this out … it is a slideshow from St. Louis:

    100K for Obama in St. Louis

    The look of hope on those faces, black and white, men and women, young and old, is heartwarming…and heartbreaking.

    I fear for Obama, I really do. But I also have no doubt that he is fully aware of his place in history right now, and the challenges and threats that surround him.

    It’s so funny (or maybe not!) that you gravitated to the photograph Powell spoke of. I did too. I’m trying to find a copy of it, and will post it, if I do. [ETA: found it.] Powell’s response to the issue of whether Obama is a Muslim was perfect. He’s not, but so what if he is?

    Can Obama unite the country? He already is. Powell, and many other conservative intellectuals are abandoning the Republicans to throw their support behind Obama. Major newspapers who have only ever supported Repubs are endorsing Obama.

    This is a classy, intelligent, visionary man. This is an even-tempered man, and a consummate politician–not a bad thing. He understands how to build consensus in a way that McCain could never, never even dream of.

    I also don’t think the country is quite as divided as people might think, despite the huge coverage that some of more hateful McCain/Palin rally attendees are receiving. This has become the narrative–but the Repubs have brought it on themselves. Nonetheless, ignorant bigots are a minority of a minority, I truly believe that. The sad thing is that the McCain campaign has explicitly–explicitly! courtesy of Sarah Palin–given this minority a platform to spew their racist vitriol.

    What I most admire about the Obama campaign, and about Powell’s and many, many others’ commentary on it, is how they have absolutely refused to wallow down in the mud regardless how hard the Republicans have tried to lower the discourse to that level.

    What we are seeing, in the youtube clips and mainstream media, might grab the headlines, but it does not represent the majority of the country’s views. If it did, Obama would not be leading in the polls as he is (on that, pay particular attention to http://www.fivethirtyeight.com for the best and most accurate summary of polling data and predictive modelling of election results).

    As I understand it, St. Louis is a deeply racially divided city, with a long and nasty history. And yet 100,000 people turn up for Obama. And Missouri is now a swing state. Also N. Carolina and Virginia.

    Every single one of the Canadians I talk to are pro-Obama, and believe that one of his greatest virtues will be his ability to repair the international alliances and reputation that eight years of Bush have so damaged.

    As I said elsewhere, I’m looking forward to celebrating with you all on Nov 5th.

    Thanks for stopping by again … always good chatting with you. 🙂

    Reply

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