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Operation Reach B.L.A.C.K. is a Pan-African Blog with an acronym that stands for Building Leadership Awareness and Cultural Knowledge.

The goal of this blog is to become a "Blog of Black Thought" focusing on matters of social, economic and political awareness through education (re-education), self-affirmation and cultural expression. Above all, this blog will DEMAND respect and appreciation for one another as black men and women.

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(Opinions, Observations, and Commentary)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

For Once. . . I'd Like to See the Good Guy Win

Like many of you, I sit here today at a crossroads in my political life. Bombarded with polls and focus groups, talking heads and political analysts, today's primaries in North Carolina and Indiana provide yet another opportunity for the triumph of HOPE.

That's what this really comes down to. The notion that we can disregard something as cherished and sincere as hope disturbs me to my core. Now, this is not to say that one group or candidate holds the mandate on hope. That's not the case. But it can't go unnoticed that one candidate in particular has mortgaged his political career on hope in a way no other candidate has done in recent memory.

And I guess that's what separates Obama from his opponents. He is willing to wager on hope in a way both Clinton and McCain never would. It's what Obama talks about when he protests the old politics of the past. It's an opportunity for a fresh start. And what makes this so special is that, for once, we, the American people, hold the key as to whether or not we can make that campaign promise a reality.

I've just watched an hour of political punditry where talking heads derided Obama for not taking the easy road. He didn't pander. He didn't attack. He didn't divide. He didn't exploit. Ironically enough, all of these things are routinely viewed as net positives in politics rather than the distractions that they really are.

"The panderer always wins," says one talking head; his grin as wide as the chasm between that statement and the virtues of honesty and integrity that fall by the waist side in election year after election year. "He's not one of us," says another pundit; judgmental as any, having predetermined what the definitions of "us" and "American" actually are. "He's unknown," says another; misleading the public to believe that the American people must know everything about it's President before he takes office (if that were the case, we'd never have scandals or lies in Washington. . .we rarely "know" any of our elected officials).

Over the past month we've been besieged by this constant barrage of cynicism. It's become a depressing, spiritless writ of inevitability that says the world we live in is what it is, but nothing more. Nothing special. Nothing uplifting. . . toying with our emotions and providing just enough promise to keep us going from day to day. . . month to month. . . year to year.

This is particularly troubling for younger voters such as myself. Being 26 years old, I've never supported a winning campaign. While older people have fond memories of King and Kennedy, my "political awareness" came to life in the age of O.J. Simpson, the L.A. Riots and Monica Lewinsky. I watched in horror as the emotional roller coaster of the 2000 Presidential election devolved from democracy to litigation to the ultimate betrayal of democracy in the name of partisan politics.

Yet, persistent in my idealism, I worked on the campaign four years later in 2004. Working 70 hour weeks, I managed canvassing crews for the DNC. It was a short-time commitment. Nothing major. But it was my claim to the process. . . my American dream in action.

I can remember the joy and enthusiasm for change that filled the air. I truly felt that something special was going to happen.

It never did.

I remember the anguish that election night as I waited for my candidate to take the stage. . . to raise his hand in triumph and signal the beginning of a new day.

It never happened.

The stage was left empty. The crowds dispersed. And we went back to business as usual. One more day. One more month. One more year. Business as usual.

I can remember how distraught I was at that time. Confused and disappointed I decided to have a talk with my reverend about life and the nature of man. Like many others, I had sat paralyzed for four years as I watched the politics of division and cynicism rule the day.

The cynics held office.

The cynics made policy.

The cynics made war.

The cynics won re-election.

I asked my reverend for his perspective on the nature of man. "Are men inherently good or inherently bad," I asked. Were we kind-hearted and open-minded by nature or did our advances in law and politics successfully hide the chaos that rests within each of us? Were we inherently communal or inherently individual? Did our humanity extend beyond the boarders of our country? And if not, what's to say our humanity extends no further than the walls of our homes or the selfish motivations of personal gain? Was man meant to love or use his fellow man? And why do good guys always seem to come in last?

I asked this host of questions not expecting so much an answer as just an opportunity to confide in someone I trusted during dark times. My reverend took a moment to respond before simply reminding me that man did kill Jesus Christ.

I would have been floored if he had stopped there. But he didn't. His response appeared to focus on the capacity of man to choose his own path. The gift of free will, prompts us to either be better people or settle for what's given. It inspires our better angels and taunts our darker demons. But it's there. And no walk of life is immune from it. Not religion, not spirituality and certainly not politics.

I must say I have that same feeling in the pit of my stomach today. That nervousness. That feeling that we've come to a crossroads at a critical time in our nation's history where the gift of free will has asked us to choose between a fresh new start or more of the same.

And "hope" has certainly been tested in this campaign. It has been mocked and ridiculed. Hope has been dismissed. Hope has been attacked.

But "hope" is not dead. And despite the rise in cynicism, I will continue to be "hopeful" that, for once, we as a people might listen to our better angels. For once, I'd like to see the good guy win.

For once, I'd like to see us get beyond the divisions of race, religion and culture. For once, I'd like to see truth triumph over lies. I'd like to see us reward good behavior rather than settle for the bad behavior that passes as politics as usual. For once I'd like to see us take the road less traveled. . . to dare to dream. . . to trust in ourselves to be the change we so desperately want to see.

How empowering!

How enlightening!

For once I'd like to see the pundits proven wrong. I'd like to shock the status quo and venture forth on a new path created for us, by us.

THAT is what I've seen in Barack Obama's campaign. We know he's not perfect. We don't think he's the "Messiah." Our support for him is rooted in one strong belief. . .

It's the people.

It's US!

It's us. . . in all of our glory. Black and white. Young and old. Blue collar and white collar. Male and female. Gay and straight. It's us. . . it's the type of "America" I want to live in.

It's the vision and the sense of community that captures the imagination and inspires us to be the best we can be. In spite of the naysayers.

In spite of the cynics. In spite of those who've spent their entire lives telling us we can't, I cling to the HOPE that we might yet face our critics and say, "YES WE CAN!"

After weeks of media-hyped controversies built on race and class, I would LOVE to see those working class whites in Indiana and North Carolina prove the cynics wrong. I'd love to see them buck the trend. . . to stand in resistance to the divisive tactics and say . . . "we're better than that," . . . "we're smarter than that."

Right now I see the cynic gaining his stride. I see Pat Buchanan growing in confidence and Sean Hannity smiling with glee. Glee at the division that has been reintroduced into this campaign. Glee at the rise of cynicism and old school politics where a lie is good so long as it gets you votes and a smear is political genius if it gets you to the top.

Not today. . .

Not now.

I don't know what's going to happen today. But I do know this. Regardless of tonight's outcome we must believe in ourselves. Our cause is as great as any. Our desires, more sincere than most. Our candidate, most deserving. This is a special time in our lives and we mustn't let it pass us by. Don't let the cynics tell you to fall back in line. This is our time! Stand up for what you believe in!

I've seen it pass by too many times before. It passed me by in 2000. It passed me by again in 2004.

But this time is different. Like many of you, I can see the promise within our grasp. Are we willing to take it?

Hey North Carolina and Indiana . . . the ball is in your court.




Video: Perspective Piece