Posted by: minnow | March 13, 2008

Ferraro VS Obama

Would it be more fair to say, he would not be where he is today if he was not such a good orator? If he did not wax eloquent at the Democratic convention in 2002? But, then we must ask why was he invited to the convention? Was he truly the only stirring speaker available that evening? Seriously people, when was the last time a one term state senator was asked to give the keynote address at a national political convention? What would have caused Senator Obama to even be on the radar if it were not for the fact that he is African-American? The Problem with Ms Ferraro’s statement that: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.” is not that the statement is racist. The problem is that our country is racist.

America faces problems that harm along racial, economic, and gender lines. Statistically this is a fact. So, when an individual rises out of the pit of these problems it is note worthy. The reality of growing up in America for many minorities is that even with talent and intelligence their full potential is never realized. Barak Obama is an exception to that rule. And it is in this way that he is very lucky to be who he is. Should he apologize for being black, for stirring up pride in black Americans all across the country? Absolutely not! He is both talented and intelligent. He has worked hard to get to where he is today. And, he has certainly earned our attention.

At the same time, while his daily experience of being black in a racist society has undoubtedly been difficult and while he has assuredly faces ignorance, insults, and hatred just because he is black, he has also received favor. If the favor and all the rest were put on a scale would it balance? Probably not. Yet black America is not alone in facing “all the rest”. Just ask a Hispanic-American, a Native-American, or a woman.

Ms Ferraro spoke honestly when she said of her own appearance on the 1984 Democrat ticket that she was put on the ticket because she is a woman. Twenty-four years ago it was what it was–an about time declaration. The sad part is that it did not break down any barriers. It did not prove to be enough to rid our country of its clear gender bias or to even put much of a dent it our prejudice. We are still a sexist nation. I believe it was from her own place of woundedness that Ms Ferraro spoke.

If Ms Ferraro were truly honest–with herself and with us–she would have to admit that Senator Clinton is where she is today because she is a woman, truthfully because she is a wife. All of Senator Clinton’s political experience is due to the fact that she is the wife of Bill Clinton, including her Senate seat. I know, my statement is not exactly the most PC point of view. Yet, in the game of politics where name recognition is of vital importance, it is a fact. Should she apologize for being a woman? No more so than Senator Obama should for being black.

What Geraldine Ferraro was saying in the subtext of her statement is that even though Senator Clinton has enjoyed favor because she is who she is her ideas and policies are good. Her concern for this country is real. She is talented and intelligent in her own right. The politically incorrectness of her language toward Senator Obama pricked our sensibilities because we are a racist nation and so we avoided what Ms Ferraro was actually saying. Her comments were not questioning Senator Obama’s right to be where he is. Her comments were meant to point us to the issues–look past the color of his skin she was saying–are his policies sound? How does he respond under fire? She wants Senator Clinton and Senator Obama to speak “about what’s at stake in this campaign”. It is a legitimate request.

The trouble with favor is that it implies the attention was not earned. For Senator Obama that conclusion is simply untrue. Still he must make a case for the substance of his policies. He has not yet done this well enough for Ms Ferraro, and thus her remark. The rest of the country is not as disparaging as she.

On a personal level I must say I have been stirred by Senator Obama’s words of hope. I am not however impressed with his short voting record. At the same time, had the Republicans nominated anyone other than Senator McCain I would have struggled with my vote. Senator Clinton has been clear enough about her plans of action that I am able to reject her candidacy as not heading in a direction I want to see our country go. Based on his senate appearance I suspect Senator Obama’s policies would not be dissimilar enough from Senator Clinton’s for me to support him despite his hopeful message to the contrary.

Hope is important. We have learned this from great men such as Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan and Barak Obama. But, hope does not put bread on the table. The country has a right to know what each of these candidates is going to do, what they are really willing to fight for. Then and only then will we know whether or not we want what they have to offer.

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