Blog Archive

Blog Archive – November, 2008

Why I Am Joyful About The Election of Barak Obama

November 05, 2008

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

It’s gratifying. It’s thrilling. It’s a redemption of the American public; perhaps they now realize that they themselves do make a difference.

I myself cast my presidential vote for third party candidate Ralph Nader; it was a statement of my support for badly needed party reform here in the US. Even though I am a registered member of the Democratic Party. And my Democratic congressional candidate got my vote at the local level.

          But I felt it was Barak Obama who we needed to lead this nation. The decision had to go his way; American voters, sometimes irresponsible and shockingly naïve, had to grasp the terrifying dangers of an alternative.

          Barak Obama is a real leader. Increasingly over the months as I observed the campaign from a distance—I did not attend campaign rallies but reported on campaigns-- I became increasingly convinced that this man possesses extraordinary qualities, including leadership skills.

          My journalism brought me into contact with people across the country, a broader range of citizens than normal. I also read more widely, on all sides of the political spectrum to inform myself as a reporter. And what I learned, although not always what I wanted to believe (more of that next week) about the new Black leader, told me he had to win--had to win not because the alternative held frightening consequences for the nation and the world. Had to win because citizens were being involved in the civil (election) process, if not the real politic alone, more than I witnessed in 40 years living in the US. Had to win not just because of charm or charisma or profound statements. But had to win because Barak Obama is unarguably a brilliant, skilled, and experienced community organizer. One can see the facts: millions more Americans registered to vote; millions of students and youth, new voters, brought into his campaign; millions of Black Americans, politically very sophisticated but marginalized over the years by racism and other inequalities, motivated. Surely the Obama slogan “Yes we can” which could have been a fatuous, prosaic media bite, held special meaning for them. The statement rings deeper for the Americans of African heritage than for anyone else:--

Yes, we can: “We can alter the course of our history;

“We can realize the dreams of Malcolm X, Fanny Lou Hammer, Martin K King, Rosa Parks, WEB DuBois, Anglea Davis and the millions more who fought, who dreamed, who died.

And “Yes we can lead this nation, as president.

“Yes, we can break though the awful, shameful cycle of racism.

“Yes we can change our leadership.

“Yes, we African Americans can speak and act free of the stereotypes we have been associated with, bringing the highest standards of language, thought, compassion to an issue.

“Yes, White Americans can accept us and chose a great and Black American as their president too.”

So November fourth’s victory, I believe, is a special and powerful one for all African Americans. And thereby for the USA.

Some of us witnessed and noted the rallies for Obama--facts the media chose to play down. Hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters flocked to his campaign gathering in numbers never seen before. Those numbers foretold his certain victory on Tuesday.

          Now to Mr. Obama the campaigner. Through all the debates, and all the rebuttals to malicious attacks re Obama’s relationships with individuals, the African American kept his cool. He responded with facts, and in a dignified yet forceful manner. He defended himself without falling into a cycle of counter attacks. In his debates with campaign opponents, first Hillary Clinton, then John McCain, Barak Obama displayed extraordinary composure, respect, and control. He is grace embodied. He is firm; he is confident.

          In Chicago where Obama has lived for over a decade, his community organizing skills are well known. His professional partnership with an astute wife, Michelle, is legend. These he brought to the national campaign in a masterful way. First, essential to any community mobilization, Obama was optimistic. He believed negative situations could be reversed, that despair could be turned to hope and action. And he transferred this to others. He worked with Americans long marginalized—the Arab American, the Hispanic, the Black. His efforts brought them into the political process in Chicago like never before.

All this Obama applied then on the national scale. Not for 100 years or more, has the grass-roots political landscape be altered. Never has such a high percentage of Americans voted. Have you ever seen lines of waiting voters outside the poll booths like that before, except in South Africa, Chile, Nepal, Palestine, and India? This is new for USA!

          Next? Now that Obama is president-elect, what we can expect? Next week, we share thoughts stemming from the irrefutable campaign decisions by Obama --downside of the campaign. Facing some realities.

[ Why I Am Joyful About The Election of Barak Obama ]

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