Thursday, October 9, 2008

Obama's Historic Opportunity

America stands at the precipice of a depression. Approaching from behind are the winds of global financial disaster and the army of threats to our national security. There at the ledge we ALL stand, for once (or once again) bound together across race, class, and gender by the weight that crushes our collective shoulders.

There on the verge of losing balance at the worst possible time, we have what I consider to be an opportunity. A chance to brace ourselves, take a swan dive into new waters, then after a period of submergence to emerge and breathe again while reaching new ground. It is the kind of opportunity that either frightens you into a panic or motivates you to address it head on.

We must admit that American exceptionalism has taken a hit. Are we really as good as we say we are? Remember last season the New England Patriots were absolutely convinced that they were second to none. And yes, the Greatest Nation in the World is now in need of a comeback, with the clock running out, a bitterly fought race coming to a dramatic conclusion, and Obama having the momentum.

This election carries with it a significance even greater than the financial crisis itself. In fact, the global banking meltdown serves as a mere backdrop to the critical challenge of identifying the man whose job it will be to manage it.

Is Diddy involved? Because this is like "Making the President" and the winner will enter office after having achieved victory in one of the most compelling political competitions in decades. If this election is the conference championship, then the imminent domestic and global challenges are the Super Bowl. An incredible opportunity now presents itself to a nation that once took for granted that it was "all that."

Barack Obama has taken on a confident, energized, shall I say presidential demeanor. He seems to believe that he is about to win this. He wants Americans to know that as a minority from modest upbringings he understands firsthand those who struggle. Obama understands them emotionally and empathetically, unlike his opponent who might only comprehend those struggles intellectually, if at all. But still this will not guarantee a victory. Whichever way the election ends up, it will be a defining moment for America.

If Obama loses... it will be because despite the obvious necessity of changing course, America is not ready to follow a man like Barack Obama. America will have decided that gifted intelligence is not a must-have for our next President. It will demonstrate that quantity of experience matters more than quality of experience.

But if Obama wins, well that's another story. It will be because Americans are indeed bold enough to make new history. It will mean that we are in fact fed up with recklessly managing our domestic affairs, and bullying our way around the globe.

An Obama win will say that we have mentally processed the idea of having the first Black President of the United States. He would also be the one who presides over perhaps the most important global matter (or set of matters) that many of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. That is a huge task, far more significant than winning the election itself which would already have been a feat of historic proportions.

Barack Obama will either win or lose. We have the power to choose our own adventure. Then after voting on November 4th we will certainly know which of the above truly describes America at this time.

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