Every once in a while, something I write actually gets someone’s attention; occassionally, I even hear from someone who either totally agrees with me, or thinks I’m a raving lunatic. Some people agree with me but still think I’m a lunatic.
I have to say, however, that I was not prepared for the response I received to the “The Bill Factor” piece that appeared on the site a few days ago. So, in the spirit of fair play, and pausing for thought, I decided to share some of those responses with you, my faithful readers. So here it is, unedited, for your enjoyment!
Yours is a well-expressed summation of the “Bill” factor in our community. Sure, I, too, voted for Bill–twice. I appreciated his closeness to our community, his comfort level with our people. We would hope that all presidents would be able to comfortably form relationships with people regardless of their race, culture, religion. We need leaders who can claim friends from all socio-economic groups. But you are right in pointing out that voting decisions must consider other factors. After all, Bush also has a lot of friends who are black, Hispanic, female, etc. Charisma aside, there are many things President Clinton did–as the leader of the Democratic Party–that I, as a progressive, did not appreciate. For examples–1. He took the party to the CENTER in an attempt to appear more REPUBLICAN fiscally. By doing so, he alienated the heart and soul, the pulse, the lifeblood of the Democratic Party–the Progressives–those frequently unkempt activists, labor organizers, blue-collar working people–many of whom fled to the Green Party & became unavailable when Gore’s time to bat appeared. Welfare reform would have been a better idea if Clinton had had a plan for employing all the people who lost benefits so abruptly. But at the time, it was more important for him to be seen destroying the program so as not to be accused of being a tax&spend LIBERAL. He regrets this now–he has publicly admitted the error of this tactic–but the damage was done, and because of it George Dubya Bush won the White House.
2. In this same vein, he “cleansed” the party of the left/progressives and brought in his Hollywood “Golden Girls” buddies to produce & script the convention so that it looked like the Academy Awards instead of our beloved, customarily rowdy Democratic Convention. Everybody had to stay on message, and no one could admit being a Liberal. (Remember? They were so afraid Jesse Jackson was going to say something radical like “We Shall Overcome.”) This was definitely not cool.
3. Personally, I liked Jocelyn Elders, his first surgeon general, whom Billary coldly dumped after she advised young people to use birth control if they were having sex. I also liked Lani Guinier–the first black woman to achieve tenure in Harvard’s Law School. Billary dumped her from the nomination to Attorney General for Civil Rights after Republicans derided her as the “quota queen.” Remember that? A scholar, she had researched how political districts are formed in this country and how redistricting more times than not disenfranchised minority voters. She had developed a correction for this imbalance, which infuriated the likes of Jesse Helms. Puh-lease! This is a post that Clarence Thomas, our current Supreme Court Justice (aka Anita Hill dog) held for years. Billary caved.
But, as Marshall Ganz reminded us, people vote on an emotional level most of the time. I’ve often tried to remind people of these facts, only to be told–“well, I liked the way she stood by her man.”
As we begin engaging voters on behalf of Barack Obama, I would follow his lead and show them he is not taking their votes granted, or expecting them to vote for him because he is cute or black or white or Christian or male or female. He wants to know how he, as President, can help them improve the quality of their lives and he wants everyone who is working on his behalf to ask the voter for his or her support.
I don’t know what you are finding, but I’m finding that Obama supporters are the first ones out of the gate and on the neighbor’s front porch, ringing the bell. I don’t see any Billary workers anywhere in the communities asking voters for anything. Come election day, they may remember that.
P.S. And yes, if all else fails, I, too, suggest that we can’t bring back the past by electing relatives or family members to the same office; job skills are not transferable based on family or marital ties. What better example of this than Dubya? I mean, geez, folks, would you ask the spouse of your surgeon to operate on you if that surgeon died?
Bravo for your letter-as far as I am concerned, Hillary is just not skeptical enough-namely that she she failed to question two really important statements -the first being ‘I did not have sex with that woman’, that secured the presidency for the Republicans and, of course, failing to even read the documents and question the Bush administration’s push for war against Iraq-plunging us into a disastrous and costly war. To say nothing of the mess she made of the health care reform issue. Having dealt with insurance issues related to my son’s cancer and his relapse for the past five years, I can only say, if this is the wonk solution, it is ill-conceived and not humane.I believe that Senator Obama is the only candidate who can heal this country and bring us together. Hillary does not have a prayer of doing that-not a prayer! Thanks for speaking out and helping develop a dialogue for the rest of us to respond to those who prefer Billary!
I enjoyed reading this very interesting article and concur that Sen. Barack Obama is the best candidate to be president of the United States at this juncture in Amercan history. Clearly, his victory would be a defining bench mark for the future.However, there are some lacunae in the analysis. First of all, as the author mentioned, Sen. Hillary Clinton is also presidential timber. In my view, to evaluate her candidacy through the prism of her husband Bill is to give her unwarranted short shrift.It may come as a surprise to some that winning the presidency requires more that getting the black vote. First of all, the black community is by no way monolithic in spite of its propensity to vote for Democratic candididates, as it should given Republican virtual disdain for the black population.
Now, candidates need to appeal to a cross section of voters beyond sectariam, religious, gender, and racial lines. This approach is sensible and practical. Failure to do so will lead to disaster for Obama at the polls. Frankly, Obama’s mettle will not be assessed by his affinity to black voters but more on his ability to promote and effectuate change from which the entire citizenry will benefit.
This notion of a zero-sum game is antiquated and not useful in the times in which we now live. Further, America’s prestige abroad will not necessarily be enhanced by the fact of him being a black president. Obama must show that he’s capable of handling domestic issues as well and international schisms which if left unresolved can threaten the interests and security of the United States.
Obama ‘s negritude is a given. However, he must demonstate that he’s sufficiently attuned to the difficulties facing some segments of the black community. But as president, his preoccupation should be focused across the national spectrum and be pragmatic. Symbolism is not enough. If he engages in gender and racial politics his chances of winning the presidency will be diminished.
This outcome would be a disaster for an eminently qualified candidate. As president Obama has to become a statesman and less of a parochial political figure in the trenches. Leadership and vision are key attributes, and he has them. He need not resort to divisiveness to garner votes. He should follow his natural instincts born of his unique experience and promote inclusiveness.