The past few days I have thought often of what an exceptional country is the United States of America. In particular I have considered Senator Obama’s being the first black person to be nominated by a major political party, and that it is quite possible he will become our first black president.
Think about the significance of this, and the powerful acclamation such a move places on this country. From those hideous, shameful days of slavery we have marched to this night when Senator Barack Obama stepped forward to accept the nomination of the Democratic party for the presidency of this our glorious country.
I will not vote for Senator Obama. My decision is based in no way on his color, but rather on consideration of his principles, and on my belief that Senator McCain is more qualified, and that his views are more in line with my own.
So, I have been thinking a lot about this; about my strong disagreements with Senator Obama, and yet my pride in our country for pressing beyond racism and for nominating a black man for president. I planned to write fully about this phenomenon, but saw tonight that Cal Thomas has so written. In his excellent articulate way, he says what I am feeling, and I bring his column here. I know you will enjoy it.
I was a 20-year old copyboy at NBC News in Washington when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. I accompanied correspondent Jack Perkins to the event at the Lincoln Memorial. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the significance of the moment, but the power of King’s rhetoric and the substance of his message touched me deeply and awakened a spirit in me that allowed this white, middle class young man from Washington’s suburbs to begin to understand the pain of slavery and racial discrimination.
I am proud of a country that would elevate a man of color to attain the nomination of his party for the presidency. It does not diminish his achievement to note that Barack Obama has ideas and policies that are mostly opposite my own. Is there another country on earth that could address its sin of racism the way America has done? To say that Dr. King would be proud of this moment would be an understatement.
Obama knows he stands on the shoulders of those who went before, who were arrested, lynched, beaten, denied proper housing, denied the right to vote, denied their full humanity because of an external characteristic that had nothing to do with the content of their character.
It is often forgotten that Republicans had a major role in ending discrimination and southern Democrats a major role in trying to maintain segregation (at least Democrats would like voters to forget). It was Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. Calvin Coolidge spoke about the morality of equal rights for blacks. Dwight Eisenhower sent troops into Little Rock to integrate Central High School. Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen was one of the Republican leaders who joined with Northern Democrats to make voting rights and open housing laws a reality. Two modern Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, owe their elevation to high office to progress on racial reconciliation.
While I do not intend to vote for Barack Obama, my decision is not based on his skin color, but rather on the “color” of his ideology. Still, I salute his achievement and am grateful to be a citizen of a country that offers the possibility of a person of color becoming President of the United States. Dr. King’s dream just might become Obama’s reality.
EDIT: FRIDAY MORNING
And now, in just a short time, John McCain will announce his Veep choice to be Sarah Palin. No matter your thoughts of the advisability of a woman for president, think of this: In 1919 American women were not allowed in polling places, and then in 1920, the 19th amendment gave women the certainly deserved right to vote. I believe this is the second woman to be nominated as VP. Be proud, America.
My devotional blog is here.