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Five Silly Reasons Used Against Obama

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This article is part of a series in celebration of a new, dynamic voice in Black America: the NUBIANO Exchange. Brace yourself for the NUBIANO experience. 

This past year, the political ambitions of Barack Obama have been under constant attack. Although the number of Obama critics has steadily declined, due in part to his caucus victories in Iowa and South Carolina, the use of race rhetoric has soared to ridiculous heights — fueling voter reservations about the viability of his campaign. While the criticisms launched against Obama are expected and purely a part of the political process, they have unearthed, without intention, a host of issues that America has struggled to resolve, yet still uses to define her national politics. Unsurprisingly, the issue of race stands front and center.

From the stockpile of political missiles launched against Barack Obama’s campaign, five have been deemed as “silly reasons” to vote against him. One reason addresses concerns about Obama’s limited “Washington experience,” while another critiques his “blind optimism.” The remaining three revolve around the issue of race, with the final two addressing reservations held by members of the African-American community.

No matter your background or political affiliation, if voting against Barack Obama, let not your decision be based on one (or more) of the following “silly reasons”:

1. Barack Obama lacks sufficient political experience.

Since it is quite clear that Barack Obama has adequate political experience, when looking at his background as a community organizer, civil rights lawyer, and representative in the Illinois Senate, it is quite clear that this statement only calls into question Obama’s “Washington experience,” as an elected official, which would only reference his time in the Senate. At what point did a politician’s proximity to (and experience in) Washington guarantee their viability and credibility in being a presidential candidate?

If one were to judge the past ten presidents, using the same measure for success, former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan would not fit the bill. That being said, there is no denying that each of their respective political experiences, while limited to the contexts of their states, helped to shape their national platforms and amass their political fortunes.

When comparing the political experience of Barack Obama against that of President George W. Bush, is it plausible to say that Obama does not match or exceed his level of experience? By default, this statement concludes that current President Bush is more “experienced” than Obama, despite the fact that Bush became president primarily because of George H. W. Bush’s proximity to Washington and the conservative support his father garnered during the Nixon years. Time has shown, especially with this recent administration, what a vote based solely on “Washington experience” stands for: sustaining the status quo.

2. Barack Obama only talks about change and does not have a clear agenda.

Precedents are often made in times of uncertainty, and time has shown that trailblazers can achieve success without a “blueprint of action” in hand. Mahatma Gandhi didn’t know, in 1930, that thousands of Indians would join him in the Salt Satyagraha, a non-violent protest to Britain’s salt tax, just like Martin Luther King did not know his advocacy of racial and economic equality would lead him to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. These men simply acted on their convictions, although they crafted their methods of attack, against the status quo, as social and political events unfolded over hours, days, months, and years. What matters most is that these men’s values, morals and convictions were built upon a solid foundation. Who can argue against Barack Obama’s audacity to hope, the power of a dream or the need to be the change one wants to see in the world?

History has shown that political inspiration is the fuel for American aspiration. In the 1840s, Jacksonian Democrats, like journalist John L. O'Sullivan, advocated for “manifest destiny,” which eventually led to the California Gold Rush; in 1961, President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech urged all Americans to “ask what they can do for their country,” a declaration that led to the development of the Peace Corps and served as inspiration for organizations like Teach for America; and in 1963, Martin Luther King’s dream for racial equality encouraged the drafting of a legally-binding Civil Rights Act. Quite fittingly, these examples show that a proper vision for a better America should not be confined to the limits of time, for lasting change never comes quickly or easily.

3. White America is not ready for a black president.

Such a statement assumes that White America is inherently racist and will always have a box and “glass ceiling” in place for all of Black American citizens. Not only is the generalization unkind, it is also untrue. History has shown, again and again, that racial discrimination and opponents of equality can be beaten down, especially when facing the proper “agent(s) of change.” W.E.B. Du Bois broke down the racial barrier at Harvard University in 1890 by becoming the school’s first African-American Ph.D. recipient; Jackie Robinson broke down the racial barrier in major league baseball in 1947 by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers and erasing its “color line”; and Shirley Chisholm broke down the racial barrier at the 1972 Democratic National Convention by becoming the first major party African-American candidate for President of the United States. Although race, at times, is a barrier that individuals fight to overcome, there is no denying the historical proof that it can be overcome. Moreover, it is important to note that in all of the aforementioned examples, White America helped to open the door, in spite of the nation’s social and political climate at the time.

4. Barack Obama is not “black” enough.

African-Americans of all backgrounds should find this statement insulting, since it infers that one’s skin tone, education level and genuinely friendly association with whites somehow strips someone of being “black.” In addition, such thinking is the root of America’s long-standing problem with (and irresolute handling of) the issue of race. From a historical standpoint, if basing such logic on the “one-drop rule,” Barack Obama, by all measures, is a black man. If the children of former President Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave, are “black” and Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the illegitimate daughter of Senator Strom Thurmond, is “black,” then how is Barack Obama, a man with a Kenyan father and American mother any different? The sentiment underlying this comment, then, is not a matter of race, but some of Black America’s “resentment” that Barack Obama has not played the “race card” and vocally pushed the “Black agenda,” like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have done in the past and, quite frankly, still continue to do.

While racial politics have played a role in American politics, the focus, policies and administration of the President of the United States should never benefit (or focus squarely on) only one segment of the American population. Americans of all stripes take issue with (and have concerns about) the state of education, as the current generation falls behind their international counterparts; the limited economic opportunities of lower- and middle-class Americans, due to globalization and rising costs for higher education; and wholesale discrimination and hate-based crimes, no matter one’s race, gender, sexuality or religious preference. Without doubt, the issue of race has yet to be resolved in America. Nevertheless, it most certainly is not (and should not) be the center of American politics.

5. If Barack Obama fails, then future black aspirations are doomed.

Of all the pessimistic things African-Americans could say, this one surely takes the cake. Everyone standing behind this statement should be reminded of the life of American patriot Nathan Hale, whose political aspiration led to his hanging after the Battle of Long Island. His parting words of "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" gave rise to liberty in the years to come. Similarly, during the Civil Rights Movement, much of its ultimate success stemmed from the “failures” of struggles that took place in the years, decades and centuries preceding the 1950s.

Before the well-known Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, there were other similar, “failed” demonstrations in the protest against discrimination, and long before Rosa Parks became “the Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” many other women, like Claudette Colvin, Irene Morgan and Mary Louise Smith, stood up for equality, by sitting down for their rights. While the demonstrations of Colvin, Morgan and Smith are not spotlighted as frequently as Parks’, it is foolish to think that their actions did not serve as inspiration for Rosa Parks or fuel the success obtained in the Montgomery campaign.

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About Clayton Perry

  • Darren

    How about this argument: I like another candidate and trust her experience more? Sounds like a winner to me as an invidual voter. Everyone has to make up their own mind.

    Anyway — the “black enough” thing is not even a serious discussion. But sometimes I think people actually meant “will he really take care of black people” or does he have a progressive agenda. These are legitimate questions. I guess people have figured out the answers satisfactorily or are making compromises. But I do not blame them for thinking along those lines. Some people just said “he’s one of us. Of course he has a progressive agenda.” That’s the same logic that led many blacks to support Clarence Thomas.

    I also encourage you to look at Eyes on the Prize, look at the Bayard Rustin biography, and read King’s literature. Any books you can read on the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the marches in Birmingham and in Washington and the book the Unsteady March are helpful too. You portray the civil rights movement as this spiritiual intagible thing that happened to stumble upon some concrete ideas. This is an awful distortion. The civil rights movement was the product of intense planning, adjustments, meetings with local and national politicians, and a bunch of vision as well. There was the King who gave speeches and the King who made plans behind the scenes. At some point he announced those plans to the public. A lot of people want to hear Obama’s plans just like they have demanded of the other candidates. Blind faith apparently gives you a lot of political support, but it won’t give you mine.

    PS: It is not inherently racist to say white america is not ready for a black president. Even a good chunk of blacks and whites feel the same way – and the voting pattern of white democrats in these tracking polls suggest this argument is quite credible. I think people may have overestimated the virulence of white racism or underestimated the extent to which Obama could resist being seen as the “black president.” But if you ask any black person who has tried to win state-wide office — which is basically what you have to do to become a president, you will know that often, whites are not ready. We only have one black Senator now (Obama); the one before him was from Illinois; the one before that was from Massachusetts; the ones before that were during Reconstruction. Only one black governor sits today — oh, and he is in Massachusetts too. That argument is quite credible, given these dismal stats.

    Darren

  • http://www.thenubianoproject.com Clayton Perry

    Darren:

    You’re right. The Civil Rights Movement did not occur overnight. We both agree on that point.

    Due to the article’s length and focus, however, such in-depth history lessons were avoided. Your concern is implicitly addressed, though, under the fifth point: “Similarly, during the Civil Rights Movement, much of its ultimate success stemmed from the ‘failures’ of struggles that took place in the years, decades and centuries preceding the 1950s.”

    Nevertheless, I appreciate your candid remarks!

  • JustOneMan

    Clayton,

    Why all of the racist rhetoric? Your bi-line illustrates the issue that many blacks do not want to assimilate into the melting pot…imagine if my biline was this…

    This article is part of a series in celebration of a new, dynamic voice in White America: the WHITE Exchange. Brace yourself for the WHITE experience.”

    Pretty funny and most of the morons in here would brand me a Klansman or Nazi…So get off the Afrocentrism garbage…

    Obama is the best the Dumbocrats have had in years..and in fact if it comes down to him and “The Angry Old White Man” McCain — I WILL BE VOTING FOR OBAMA….

    JOM…

  • http://desicritics.org Aaman

    You might want to review other reasons provided here, chiefly around Obama’s inconsistency and respond to them.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    JOM, as usual you miss the point spectacularly. Clayton’s byline is not ‘The Black Exchange’, it’s ‘The NUBIANO Exchange’. It’s a cultural project. You make it sound like a black version of the KKK.

    It’s no different than if I were to start a group promoting British culture and call it ‘The White Cliffs Exchange’.

    C’m on, man. I know it’s Superbowl Sunday but get that brain cell working a bit.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “it is quite clear that this statement only calls into question Obama’s “Washington experience,” as an elected official, which would only reference his time in the Senate.”

    No it isn’t. When people usually use that line of reasoning, it has to do with executive experience not Washington experience. As a senator, both state and US, Obama doesn’t have it. Carter and Reagan were governors, the head executives of their states, and Ike served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe and became the first supreme commander of NATO.

    I don’t hold Obama’s lack of executive experience against him, especially considering what a bang-up job Governor Bush has done.

  • Clavos

    Plus, Hillary is also lacking in executive experience.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Aaman, you nasty boy, you….

  • Carole Ann Brown

    Don’t know where to start…so much to comment on. First of all the majority of Blacks were not led to support Clarence Thomas because he’s a brotha…. one of us. Big Bush appointed him to seemingly replace Thurgood Marshall and we are stuck with him…for life. Then, I’m sick and tired of Reagan being put on a pious Republican political pedestal. He was an actor and a good one at that. Playing governor and president were the supreme, academy award-winning roles of his life. Finally, onto the race/gender thang. It’s true that Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a staunch suffragette, wrote in her autobiography, Eighty Years and More,”Ladies, do we just step aside and let ‘Sambo’ into the kingdom first”? This reference of course was to Frederick Douglass and the double issues of the time: Women’s right to vote versus the abolution of slavery.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Clayton, I’m sure you know the meaning of the term “straw man argument”. That’s what this article is. No serious person would waste their time on any of your five reasons to oppose Obama Hussein Barack.

    The serious reasons to oppose him deal with his behavior when the spotlight of publicity is not on him, particularly his actions with respect to supporting one Kenyan leader over another. Those actions speak volumes.

    This does not mean that Hillary Clinton is any better. It simply shows that Obama (I keep wanting to type Osama) Barack is no better than Clinton, and is merely another brand of soap being hustled on the American people. The big difference is the color – he is like Lava soap with pumice – a dark color.

    That’s it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy, Clayton hasn’t set up any straw men. These points against Obama have been made countless times in the media and on internet blogs like this one. They may not be made by people with a serious grasp of the issues, but the sheer number of times one hears them means they need to be addressed seriously.

    And Ruvy, please stop showing off by reversing Obama’s name. It’s tiresome.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Ruvy, please stop showing off by reversing Obama’s name. It’s tiresome.

    I honestly didn’t realize I was reversing the guy’s name, DD. It was an honest error on my part. Thanks for pointing it out.

    If the media are taking the stuff about Barack Obama that Clayton addresses seriously, then the media is sadder and far stupider than I thought. None of these arguments are reasons for dismissing Obama’s candidacy.

    On the other hand, his actions in Kenya are. And this is just one of many links on the issue.

    I realize that Obama has been supporting a relative – or a person close to his family – but blood is really flowing there. If this man wants to be an American leader, he should very carefully consider his actions. And we already see that he does not do this.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    You’re welcome, Ruvy. Although even with your narrow focus, how on Earth you could have mixed up the man’s name considering the sheer volume of discussion of him in the global media and on Blogcritics is beyond me.

    As for his dabbling in Kenyan politics, well, we shall see. African affairs do not seem to be of much interest here in recent times, as witness the ongoing carnage in Darfur and the new conflagration in neighboring Chad.

    One of the less blinkered commenters on the blog you linked to does point out that this mess in Kenya is more political than religious in origin, and also that Obama has called on Odinga to renounce the violence.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    More silly reasons:

    6. Barack Obama was once late for a doctor’s appointment, and didn’t give a reason.
    7. Barack Obama likes taffy, and I hate taffy.
    8. Barack Obama is a PC guy, and I’m a Mac guy.
    9. Barack Obama didn’t respond to my Facebook friend request.
    10. Barack Obama has this really annoying throat clearing sound.

  • REMF

    Darren;

    So you’re supporting Gennifer Flowers’, Paula Brown’s and Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife?

    The only “experience” I see Hillary having is looking the other way when her husband commits adultery…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    ….how on Earth you could have mixed up the man’s name considering the sheer volume of discussion of him in the global media and on Blogcritics is beyond me.

    DD,

    I’m used to thinking of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president/dictator. The names Barack and Mubarak are related; Mubarak means “blessed” in Arabic.

  • Baronius

    Clayton – You cite Obama’s experience as a “community organizer, civil rights lawyer, and representative in the Illinois Senate”. By such standards, there are maybe 10,000 equally qualified people for the presidency.

    Obama spent two years in the Senate as the lowest-ranked member of the minority party. He served on one subcommittee (natural resources, if memory serves). He has spent another year on the campaign trail. He has written no major legislation, headed no significant hearings.

    So that leaves Obama with little national experience, and no executive experience. It’s a legitimate issue.

  • REMF

    “So that leaves Obama with little national experience, and no executive experience. It’s a legitimate issue.”
    – Baronius

    And that still is better than GW Bush’s and Dick “Chickenhawk” Cheney’s experience of lying about the existence of WMDs in Iraq…

  • MAOZ

    I suspect Ruvy’s (and my) unfortunately frequent encounters of the name “Ehud Barack” also tend to reinforce the name-reversal mistake.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    MAOZ,

    I could never mix up the evil dwarf (Barak) with Barack Obama. In fact, Ehud Barak, like the prick present occupant of Ariel Sharon’s chair, puts the name “Ehud” (who ran his sword through the enemy) to shame, not to mention putting to shame the name Barak, the general who commanded the Israelite forces who defeated Sisera and liberated the Hebrew tribes from foreign dominance.

    Of course, there is that other Barak, the former president of the High Court of Injustice, who also shames the name Barak.

    As for Barack Osama Obama, I think you get the idea….

  • http://cqpinion.blogspot.com/ Krutic

    You’d have to be a hell of a community organizer to use that as a qualification to be President of the US.

    Consider this scenario:
    I go to a fortune 500 corporation and interview to be CEO. I tell them I have no experience to show as qualification for this position but if you let me be the CEO I’ll bring about radical ‘changes’ to your great organization – can I have the job?
    There are only two outcomes:
    I would be laughed out or thrown out.
    And Obama wants to be the CEO of the greatest corporation of ‘em all – the USA.

  • Samie Woods

    I have a question regarding Mr. Obama’s religeous preference. There have been some insinuations that he might be muslim which is not a problem, except where it might coincide with radical muslim beliefs. Please adress this concern for me. Thank you.

  • NEAL

    AS OBAMA HATES AMERICA – ALL RATIONAL AMERICANS DESPISE OBAMA.

    HE’S TOAST!

    GOD DAMN NOT THE USA – BUT GOD DAMN THE AMERICA HATING – YOMAMA!

  • steven

    Barack Obama wont win, plut noone has ever told me wut he will change.

  • Nobama for me

    Obama is a racist lying pig. He has no interest in helping Black Americans. In fact, he is one of those most responsible for setting up poor Black Americans to fail and lose their homes. I suggest that you all do some research before you get all gaga over this evil, ego-maniacal vermin.

  • NOOOOObama

    Please, if race is the only thing used in Obama’s favor..i think that says something.

  • Noobama

    Fuck Niggers of all races! I hate every last one of your fagot asses with no regard for anybody but yourself…Black people have it better than everybody but do nothing but bitch and complain about how bad the white man has screwed you, let me tell you something…YOU WOULDN’T BE SHIT WITHOUT THE WHITE MAN! For example, you ever heard of AFRICA! Go back there i will send you money to leave my great country…and stay there and never come back since “we have in every way we could, wronged you so bad!”
    Just a thought!!

  • zingzing

    lovely. i love america.

    i want to go to africa. you send me cash, yeah? how can i get in touch with you?

    let me see… visa, plane ticket, hotel, maybe some bribe money… oh, that’ll be a good $5k at least.

    tell you what, send me you’re checking account # and i’ll just take it out myself.

    cool?

    cool.

    asshole.

  • Brunelleschi

    #27

    Whitey’s “id” got out of its cage!

    Damn republicans…

  • NObama

    obama has a twitter….

  • askificare

    not that anyone can afford anything anymore.
    stupid economy.
    $6 for a gallon of gas??? how but suck my dick.
    this world is a fail.