Because He’s Brilliant

As the race for the White House intensifies, it’s sure to be an interesting ten or so weeks. When all is said and done, though, I am hoping that the American people choose Barack Obama as their president in November.

A friend asked me the other night if Obama’s race played a role in my support of him. I cannot deny a special sense of pride I feel in Obama being someone who “looks like me” – as someone who has a shared history on some levels. But I also cannot support someone just because of their race. If it was all about race, then I would have been a supporter of Al Sharpton when he ran for president a few years ago. Sharpton, a staunch civil rights activist, has sacrificed and championed the cause of many who have been victimised and I respect him for that, but his approach (which has it’s place at times, perhaps) is not one that I agree with or see as particularly unifying. I feel the same for a number of politicians and political candidates. So, to echo Oprah Winfrey, no, “I don’t support [Obama] because he’s black; I support him because he’s brilliant!”

With America’s international reputation in tatters these days, even here in the UK, one can sense the eager anticipation of a change in the White House. Sometimes, on the news, the reporters seem like they can hardly contain themselves when mention is made of Obama. It is possible that he will do well in improving America’s image internationally and if that well choreographed visit with heads of state in countries in Europe and the Middle East a few weeks ago is any indication of how he might fare, then Americans might have much that is positive to look forward to.

While his policies, style of communicating, and approach to issues, in general, appeal to me, it is the way Obama has run his presidential campaign that has probably impressed and persuaded me the most. His hugely successful fundraising strategy, securing donations largely from grassroots supporters (online) and refusing to rely on wealthy lobbyists, was the among the first things to catch my eye. His ability to surpass a fundraising heavyweight like Clinton in fundraising totals month after month during the primaries the way he did was astounding!

Obama’s commitment to running a clean campaign and not allowing himself to get distracted by attacks from his opponents is also refreshing and I can only hope this commitment is kept in the coming months as things heat up.

I found his handling of the controversial remarks by his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, to be appropriate and the subsequent speech he gave on race/racism was timely, unifying, and outstanding.

Obama’s decision not to succumb to the pressure of the media and others and to not pander to disgruntled Clinton supporters by choosing her as his running mate was yet another impressive move. It showed good judgment because it suggests he might not be swayed but superficial pressure when making decisions and he really is committed to the change he has been advocating. Having Clinton as a running mate might have brought baggage – not least of which would have included her husband. Joe Biden seems a sensible choice with his extensive Senate and foreign policy experience and one who will play an active role in putting the Obama policies in action. Biden’s speech and passion at the DNC was excellent and it’s going to be interesting seeing the two of them on the campaign trail.

Finally, and most importantly, is the consistent unifying theme that is present whenever Obama speaks. Whether it is between Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, the rich and the poor, men and women, gays and straights, or Americans and non-Americans, his message is about bringing people together for the common good. It is a message about recognising that while we might have different backgrounds, lifestyles, and beliefs, most of us want the same things and share a lot of the same basic values in life…

Now that’s a message and style of politics I’d love to see unfold in Bermuda…


~ by Carol-Ann Simmons on August 30, 2008.

One Response to “Because He’s Brilliant”

  1. […] a bermudian's view says that Barack Obama's brand of politics is one that he would “love to see unfold in Bermuda…” Posted by Janine Mendes-Franco  Print Version Share This […]

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