Even after the recent flap about the New Yorker cover, even post-Jesse Jackson’s “nut cutting” comment, and well after Rev. Wright & the debunking of those “Obama is a Muslim” myths that got emailed around the world, it seems there are still millions of people in America (on both ends of the political spectrum) who don’t “get” Barack Obama.
Based on my reading and viewing of various news stories, blogs, forums & discussions over the course of the year, I’d say most people only want to use the present political moment to dig further down into their own ideological foxholes and take a few potshots, while they can. Obama’s candidacy is being treated by many like some public bathroom stall, upon which to scrawl whatever self-involved, out-of-date, sometimes overly idealistic, sometimes hate-filled, usually uninformed and amateurish (and often poorly spelled and using TOO MANY CAPITAL LETTERS) opinions/graffiti they have picked up or passed along in the course of their lives. And God forbid anyone should listen instead of spouting, or have an ORIGINAL thought, or become convinced enough to change their mind in some way.
A blog and debate at the L.A. Times is just one small smattering of the wide-ranging forms that anger, fear, hurt, ignorance, illogical contradiction and xenophobia have taken in the past six months. [Must be something about L.A. that attracts the nutjobs.] And if some of those words I used above are just too big for you, you shouldn’t be here, because I’m just an overeducated elitist like Barack, which means you’re not interested in my opinion anyway…
Whatever one thinks (or, more accurately in this peculiar American popularity contest, whatever one feels) about the world and one’s own place in it (and by association, about the changing role of one’s country and its leaders), it seems the Obam@verse has become the “go to” paradigm.
I’m probably as guilty as the rest, too. He’s like a living bulletin board, though few people are actually listening closely to what he himself says through Senate voting, interviews, platform speeches or his overall style (with Obama, style & substance seem inseparable, for better or worse). Instead, it’s all discussed at a remove of one or more “surrogates”, cartoonists, bloggers, reverends, pundits, or Klansman crackpots. We buzz about the buzz, and soon the voice and ideas of the man himself get lost amid all the white noise (or black noise… if you’ll indulge my penchant for puns one more time).
Yeah, maybe the buzz is more fun. Nobody likes a policy wonk, right? They’re boring. And sometimes confusing, with all those facts and statistics. But if we leave the governing to the vague, pork-prone, lobbied-to-death, ill-informed, party-line morons, we’ll only have ourselves to blame. Healthcare reform IS boring, frankly. Peace IS boring. But aren’t they preferable to the alternative?
And now here I am, doing it too: talking about what others are saying instead of the ideas of the man himself. So I’ll stop now, and point y’all toward an oldish interview with Obama on Belief.net about his religious and political positions. Here he carefully distanced himself from some parts of what Rev. Wright is all about, and remarkably he did so long before the inflammatory YouTube videos and Wright’s more recent retirement shenanigans hit the big stage.
This non-radicalized, forward-thinking, black but not “racialized”, aspect of Obama –for example the part that can recognize that the spirit of Bush’s faith-based initiatives is coming from a decent and reasonable place (Jackson’s nut-cutting knife and old political demonizing b.s. notwithstanding)– is precisely the part that keeps Obama out of Jesse Jackson’s, or anyone else’s, political pocket.
But don’t take my word for it. Read for yourself, not just at beliefnet, but at Obama’s own website, or in speech transcripts and interviews. I know they’re out there.
Ultimately (and because I like to end on a joke usually), Obama will be the perfect “bridge” president to lead us into the Age of the Machines, in which the computers and robots will rule over all the nations of the earth with an iron fist, clad in a velvet glove. That era will be bad, for sure. But the machines’ reign and rules will be organized, logical, and clear – and thus certainly no worse than the disgustingly hollow, overly emotional, race-baiting, fearmongering, dishonest and deeply flawed human election process we’re in the grips of now.