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“A Pageant Of Democracy”: Barack Hussein Obama Is “The Black President” No Longer

President Barack Hussein Obama’s second inauguration was every bit as historic as his first — not because it said so much about the nation’s long, bitter, unfinished struggle with issues of race, as was the case four years ago, but because it said so little about the subject.

Reflect for a moment: A black man stood on the Capitol steps and took the oath of office as president of the United States. For the second time. Meaning that not only did voters elect him once — which could be a fluke, a blip, an aberration, a cosmic accident — but then turned around and did it again.

Leading up to Monday’s pageant of democracy — perhaps the one occasion when the phrase “pageant of democracy” can be used without irony — commentary focused on prospects for Obama’s second term.

Would there be more gridlock and paralysis? Would Obama adopt a more conciliatory tone toward the Republican leadership in the House, or would he press the advantage he won at the polls in November? Would he make good on his promise of an all-out effort to pass new gun-control laws, even at the risk of making some fellow Democrats politically vulnerable? How would he approach immigration, entitlements, economic growth, the long-term debt?

“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama thundered, in a speech built on themes of collective action and responsibility.

Reaction to the address took remarkably little notice of the fact that Obama is an African American. That seems to be old news.

Not for me, though. Not for a black man who grew up in the segregated South, who attended a rally (my mother tells me) at which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, who lived through the defeat of Jim Crow and the triumph of the civil rights movement.

For my two sons, this is history — unfinished history, to be sure, but distant enough that they learned it from books. Their children, in turn, will grow up in a world in which one of the central tenets of American exceptionalism — that anyone can be president — is demonstrably true. Or, at least, not demonstrably false.

On Monday morning, before the inauguration, Obama took his family to worship at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House. Television images of the president, his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, entering and then leaving the church, were charming but unexceptional — and almost made me cry.

I have always believed that those quotidian pictures of family life are one of the most important legacies of the Obama presidency. For most people, visual information is uniquely powerful. What we see has more impact than what we hear. Pictures of an African American family enveloped by Secret Service protection, ferried down Pennsylvania Avenue in armored limousines, returning at night to sleep in the grand residence of the nation’s head of state — these images show us something new about what is possible, something new about ourselves.

I was always taught that the first black person to fill any job or role previously reserved for whites should expect to be held to a higher standard. Surely Obama has noticed this, too.

You’d think that steering the economy away from the abyss, passing landmark health-care reform, guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work, ending our nation’s shameful experiment with torture and ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — for starters — would add up to a pretty impressive first-term résumé.

Voters clearly thought so, but a lot of my fellow pundits seem not to have noticed. Instead, they demand to know why Obama has not somehow charmed Republicans — who announced, you will recall, that their principal aim was making him a one-term president — into meek submission, I suppose through some combination of glad-handing and perhaps hypnosis.

The truth is that it will take many years to fully assess the Obama presidency. The verdict will depend on what he accomplishes in his second term — and how his initiatives pan out in the coming decades. On health care and the long-term debt, in particular, my hunch is that Obama is taking a much longer view than his critics realize.

But here we are, talking about legacy, not race. Which is simply amazing.

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post,  January 21, 2013

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Democracy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“My America, Our America”: Barack Hussein Obama Re-Elected President Of The United States

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”–Abraham Lincoln

On January 20, 2009, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of The United States of America. For me, this was the most historic event of my lifetime. I was so thrilled and excited to attend that ceremony with my wife and my daughter. The pride, the sense of progress, the sense that this America, my America, had finally ascended to the pinnacle of the American spirit…the spirit that says no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter the color of your skin, you too can achieve the American dream.

I watched intently as our president took the oath of office. Barack Obama, a man whose story is an American story, a man with values from the heartland of America and middle class upbringings, a man whose convictions emphasize his commitment to the service of others.

America, or I should say, most of America, was prepared to show the rest of the world what it means to live in a democracy, to show ourselves that democracy works for all Americans. As I look back over these last 4 years since that inauguration day, I wonder with dismay, where and when did we decide to make a U turn?

Apparently, the turn began on the night of the inauguration. While the goodwill and good feeling of the many was being celebrated, a 15 member group of power hungry legislators were meeting to undermine the rest of the country. This was no ordinary four hour meeting. Everyone knew the nation was in crisis…an economy in the tank, millions of Americans without jobs, millions more without healthcare, and two ongoing costly wars. Representatives Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hersaling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren and Senators Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign and Bob Corker, along with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and pointman Frank Luntz were strategizing on their grand plan to “take back America”. Since no one seemed to know where America had been taken to, their meeting was to enact a plan on how to block and obstruct every possible legislative idea and policy that would be put forth by President Obama. No matter how bad things were already, and no matter the fact that these same people had contributed to the downfall that we were all experiencing, these men, and I use the term cautiously, were essentially plotting to overthrow the government. Some would say that their plan bordered on treason, myself included. Their actions did not represent simple politics, they represented complete disdain and contempt for “we the people” and the first African-American president.

From that point on and for the next four years, history returned with a vengeance. Lead by Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House and Senate Republicans went on the most despicable campaign of desperation, disruption and obstruction never before seen in American history. Mitch McConnell went so far as to say:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

In other words, we don’t care about what is happening in America, we don’t give a damn if the country goes to hell in a handbasket.

Then came the drum beat from the even “farther right”…Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, John Sununu, Donald Trump. President Obama is now the “other”, “not born in America”, “not one of us”, “lazy”. These are all people who say they believe in America, they believe in democracy, they believe in the American dream. Barack Obama is the 44th duly elected President of the United States. The disrespect, contempt and hatred shown to him is plainly despicable and unacceptable. It simply shows how they feel about the rest of us, especially the 47%. What changed? Race. The occupant of the White House is now an African-American. That’s what changed. During this election cycle, there were bumper stickers that said “put the white back in the White House”. This isn’t a dog whistle, it’s pure racism. Republicans saw this, and still do, as their way to stoke the fears and insecurities of so many who harbor the same sentiments. Mitt Romney, having no core convictions other than to have the title of President of the United States, went along with this agenda.

It didn’t stop there. In order to advance their agenda to return to power, republicans needed to energize their “base”. They had to make the case that America is being taken over by undesirables, by people who do not believe in the same America that they do. Anything less and anyone who disagrees is un-American. America is no longer about “freedom and liberty”, that is “our” brand of freedom and liberty. Women’s rights, abortion, contraception, civil rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, pay inequity, gay and lesbian rights, attacks on the middle class, medicare and social security, all became tools to disenfranchise those who dared not to fall in line. The wealthy wanted more tax cuts and more power, the only two things that mattered.

As I watched the election results, I had no doubt that the better angels in America would prevail. I had no statistics that I could simply rely on. I only had a sense that there is a better America. I had a sense that my America would not reward these wayward ideological republicans although this ideology has put hate and racism front and center.  I had a feeling that my America, the “majority of minorities”, would “shut this whole thing down”. I do not believe that America wants to return to the dark ages. Racism, greed, inequality, suppression of voting and civil rights has no place in this society.

Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected President of the United States of America. This is a good thing for America, for our future, for what we stand for and what we should stand for. This is my America, my President. The republicans had the money in this election but the people had the will to say, enough is enough. It seems that for republicans, the past is never dead and buried, it is not even past.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves–Abraham Lincoln 

America has spoken. It’s time for republicans to become a part of the solution…you have been the problem for far too long.

 

By: raemd95, mykeystrokes.com, November 6, 2012

November 7, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

   

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