I had been not been overly thrilled with the direction that the primary campaign and coverage had been taking lately…mostly getting tired with slew of "resignations" and the "controversy" surrounding them on both sides. Seems as if anyone says anything remotely "wrong" and they had to be ejected and the candidates had to completely distance themselves (yes, it bothered me on both sides). Every word and reaction was being parsed and analyzed and the "effect" it would have on each campaign was being analyzed.
Then the "controversy" surrounding Reverend Wright reared its head and I had just about completely stopped reading any kind of coverage because I was so sick of the divisiveness and nit-picking and knee-jerk reactions and judgments. I resigned myself to accepting that it was "politics as usual" and I would just have to accept that this was the way it was going to be and hope for the best.
But then Barack gave his speech yesterday and restored my faith in this political process. I realize that not everyone has the same opinion about it, but I have to say that personally it blew me away. If you have not heard it in its entirety, I encourage you to listen (or read it) on your own. News coverage and sound bites can not do it justice. And that was the beauty of it. It was not a typical politician speech…it acknowledged the fact that there are shades of gray to everything…that things are not as black and white as our politics would have us believe.
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For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
I also encourage you to listen to this NPR report: Chicagoans: Reports Misrepresent Obama's Church.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments from the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago have put the spotlight on his church and his relationship with Sen. Barack Obama. The church being portrayed in the media, however, is unrecognizable to many who are familiar with the congregation.
This is the way that politics and our media works…ideas, people, places are reduced to sound bites which have little resemblance to how they really are. Talking head "experts" who have little to no direct knowledge of the subject at hand come on and talk like they know something, when they don't. Because life can not be distilled down to 3 or 4 minutes on tv. Life is more nuanced than that.
All the pundits have been asking "is it enough" or "will it work". I am sure that it will not please everyone and there will still be some who dismiss it. I for one, however, am thankful that yesterday was not "politics as usual" and that Barack at least attempted to move the conversation forward.