Choice Becomes More Clear; Carole P. Kaye for Florida House District 86

Carole Kaye Democrat for House 86

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

“I don’t really want to stop the show,

But I thought that you might like to know,”

That the choice becomes clearer.

“So let me introduce to you

The one and only”
Carole Kaye, Candidate for Florida House District 86

Local Election Days are upon us.  For months now candidates for elected office have roamed their regions.  Everyday people have had ample opportunity to meet, greet, and yes, even eat a meal with aspirants.  Often, one challenger’s name is better known. He or she may be an incumbent, or closely associated with one. Consider the Florida House race in District 86. Dissimilar Democratic candidates Carole Kaye and Lori Berman appear on the ballot. Who are these office seekers?  What will they do for my community, commerce, our children, and me? Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and parts of Boca Raton constituents, who have not made politics their lives, search for answers as they travel to the polls.

Citizens are inundated with “information.”  Posters dot the landscape.  Banners fly on Boulevards.  Constituents don pins and place placards on their lawn.  Windows and automobile bumpers have not escaped unscathed.  Today, the message heard on avenue is “The time is now.”  Indeed, it is.  Early voting began on August 9 and will continue through August 22, 2010.  In Florida, while technically Primary Election Day is August 24, 2010, in reality it is today. In Palm Beach County House District 86, Primary Election Day is the final deciding date. Democrats with different styles compete for state House 86 seat.  There is no Republican challenger in this race.  The winner of the Primary will represent South Palm Beach County communities. Yet, many people do not feel equipped to decide.  Whom might I cast a ballot for, the much lauded Lori Berman or the lesser known, highly qualified, Attorney, Educator, and person who for years has shared and cared for my backyard, Carole Penny Kaye.  

Bit of Background

Perchance a bit of background might help me, the voter, more than the hype.  For a Democratic aspirant, a District with an overwhelmingly Democratic constituency can be quite attractive.  Fifty-four [54] percent of the people who reside in District 86 are registered Democrats, However, this was not the reason Carole Kaye decided to run for public office in the region.  This territory was and is her home.  From the first, and throughout her life, Ms Kaye has personified a commitment to her community.  

After college, she became a Teacher.  One score and five years later, Carole Kaye returned to the classroom, this time as a student.  Kaye capably completed her law degree.  Since then she has served as an Immigration Attorney.  Ms Kaye, through her skills, and abilities gives voice to persons who are guaranteed due process rights by the United States Constitution.  Carole Kaye believes the rights of her clients must be protected; that calling is her greatest responsibility.  As a Representative she will see herself as a civil servant.  Ms Kaye also affirms that, if elected, the populace she represents will be her principal priority.

Lori Berman, by contrast, is a non-practicing attorney. Originally, Ms Berman entered the race in her home District, 87.  Republican challenger Bill Hager also sought the peoples’ vote in that region.  However, a window opened. Maria Sachs, who had represented District 86, declared herself a candidate for the State Senate seat vacated by Ted Deutch, Ms Berman’s friend and one-time employer. Hence, Ms Berman slammed the door to District 87 shut. As Lori Berman recounts, at the request of her well-connected acquaintance, Representative Kevin Rader, a Delray Beach Democratic legislator, she chose to abandon her plans and run for the seat in District 86. Thus, the now 86th District hopeful, Berman, left her home community and the campaign she began behind.  The opportunity in the new district was hard to refuse.  

Ms Berman, an abundantly funded one-time Legislative Aide to former United States. Representative Robert Wexler and to his successor, Ted Deutch, understood that in a region where only 21 percent of registered voters are Republicans and 23 percent are without a party affiliation, she has an enhanced chance.  The likelihood of a win in this locality was thought far better than it might have been in the race she fled. Soon, Lori Berman will know whether her bet paid off.

Carole Kaye will also learn; is this the year that people take back their elections, or will politicians again exert their power? Will ample contributions and connections trump a genuine commitment?  Only citizens can decide.

Candidates. Campaigns. Community and Commitment.

During the course of the campaign each candidate spoke to fellow Democrats on the issues of import.  Berman and Kaye put out position pages and papers. These too reflect the disparity, the difference between these candidates and the variance in their dedication.

Each has identified them selves as a grassroots campaigner. However, even a local periodical which endorses Ms Berman questions this truth. The Palm Beach Post points to Lori Berman’s well-established network of politicos.   Many on Ms Berman’s list of impressive backers are powerful persons with whom the candidate associated with professionally.  

Carole Kaye also has gathered and accepted endorsements. The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance officially stated the organization stands with Carole Kaye and her candidacy.  Democracy for America’s Palm Beach County affiliate, and the United Haitian American Democratic Club also offered formal statements of support.  The acknowledgement of these also reflects what is real.  Carole Kaye connects to   a broad group of persons in her District.  She takes every opportunity to express her appreciation for her community as she did just days ago.

As was true for other local hopefuls, Ms Kaye was given an opportunity to seek an endorsement from the Palm Beach County Chapter of Democracy for America.  The District 86 Democrat participated fully in a comprehensive evaluation process.  

Hopefuls were first seen and heard at many neighborhood candidate forums.  Those who were thought viable Democrats received  announcements from DFA.   Aspirants were asked if they would wish to submit a required application for endorsement.  Respondents were also given survey questions to answer.. Also,  exhaustive interviews were mandated. After all the criterion was met, assessments were made.  

More than satisfied with candidate Carole Kaye’s performances and positions, the Chapter then offered their official statement of support.  Ms Kaye  was thusly invited to publicly meet, greet, and eat with DFA members. At this dinner meeting, she would have an opportunity to accept her endorsement, Humbly she agreed to appear.  On that occasion, Kaye stood in front of dedicated Democrats and offered her thanks.

There are many things that I am grateful for in this race for the State House.  I am most grateful that I have not been compromised by the process.  I am grateful that I am firm enough in my positions to withstand the seduction of interest group endorsements and the promise of their donations, I am blessed by the strangers who have become friends and supporters, and I am comforted by the understanding of all who I meet who know, first hand, how difficult it is to run as an outsider in a county where democracy is not always practiced.

I have been asked to leave the race, threatened for staying in.  As they say, win or lose, after running one is never the same.  But I entered because of issues of social justice and intend to win because those issues are too important to come in second . . .especially in District 86.

I am thrilled that it is the voters who make the decision of who will serve…regardless of how the process is manipulated.   The district belongs to those who live in it.  As a resident of District 86, I intend to serve with great respect for the needs of those who live in my backyard.  

I am in this race to win; therefore, I must acknowledge the members of Democracy for America for their treasured endorsement.  Their confidence in me literally made my heart sing.  In the face of so much opposition, DFA’s belief in me gave me the courage to continue to fight.  Because the principles of the group are so close to my own, I am proud that the recognition was strong and unwavering.  I am proud to be the true progressive in my race, to not be, once elected, beholden to any special interest group, set of elected officials or party ideology.  I believe that everyone must have a voice in our democracy.  That ideal will serve as the guiding principle of my term as State Representative for District 86.

Thank you Hillary and Tom and to all the members of DFA.  You have given me the greatest gift—the gift of trust.  I will not disappoint.

Given a chance, those in attendance had faith that Carole Kay would be true to her word. Countless constituents authentically believe the choice has become clear.  A candidate committed to the people is far preferable to one who is but another Party loyalist, lobbyist for professional politicians, and partisan who carries the same old pail.  

Still, there are the many who have not had the time or energy to peruse the periodicals, to probe the candidates’ perspectives, or to authentically assess other than what is seen on the streets.   Elections have begun and so too might we.  People at this event, and others who were able to avail authentic information, today, could choose to do more than cast a ballot.  We might speak to those who are undecided and unfamiliar with Carole Kaye or Lori Berman.  Persons as devoted to a common cause could say, “Citizens who travel to the polls, may I introduce to you Carole Kaye, candidate for House District 86.”

Election Day and the Electorate

Now, we vote, with our hearts, our heads, and staunch determination to do what others think hard.  We work.  We watch. We wait for a novel truth; government of, by and for the people, not partisan promoters.  We hold our collective breath or exhale; express our commitment to our community and Carole Kaye who shares our interests.  As citizens throughout District 86 cast a ballot, we can do more than just hope that this overture did not arrive too late.  

Please remember, in Palm Beach County numerous neighborhood polling places have been open for days.  Tomorrow is another day. We can make this moment a new beginning. Least we forget, most who will go to the polls may have had little time to research, and read anything about the candidates, let alone this treatise.  For them, the choice was not well defined. This introduction is offered as an opportunity to further refine your understanding of the choice presented in District 86 and spread the word.  Contribute in whatever way you can. Volunteer. Take a friend to the polls.  Make telephone calls.  Chat with neighbor, or donate dollars.  

The decision is yours, mine, and ours.  By August 24, 2010 the decision will be made, the die cast.  Carole Kaye can,, with your help, represent us in Florida House District 86., Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and of Boca Raton. Let this elections begin with you.

References for a favorable reality; government of, by, and for the people . . .

Say Nothing. Know Nothing

CNN – Biden hits GOP on economy

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

What do you talk about when you, a Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate have nothing good to say of yourself?  What can be said to encourage people to endorse you when your proposed policies will hurt them?  What do you talk about when you cannot explain, the last years that define the failure of your Party?  

You speak of others.  Then, no one will notice what you do not want them to acknowledge.  When you are not as wondrous as people hope you will be, criticize someone else.  Slice, dice, and place people on the defensive.  Lessen the worth of one who looms too large for your liking.  Then, attention will be diverted away from you.  A common enemy can be your cause.  If people in your Party have someone to actively oppose they will joyfully join you in a quest to conquer.

If you have nothing good to say of yourself or your plans, consider the options.  You might lie by omission.  Certainly, what someone does not know will not hurt him or her, or more importantly, you will not be scathed.  Build on a your personal tale. We have all experienced pain and suffering.  A real-life crisis will cause a heart to bleed.  People relate to a sad saga or a situation.  Perceived strength can be an asset.  Everyone loves a survivor.  As a society, we admire those who sacrifice.  Be that person, the saint who suffers in silence, or share the story of a sympathetic son, a daughter, a husband, or wife.

When you have nothing to say that might help endear you to those you most wish to influence, then say nothing of the economic decline that you helped to create.  Do not remind the many of a corporate culture that endorses you and yet, denies people adequate pay or employment.  If your words will cause worry to those who have lost income and a sense of self then do not dare mention the numbers out of work.  As a Party or person who permits big business to outsource jobs, you must not speak of opportunities that no longer exist for the poor and Middle Class here at home.

The unemployment rate jumped to 6.1 percent in August, its highest level in five years, pushing the troubles of American workers to the center of the political debate as the presidential campaign enters its final weeks.

For the eighth consecutive month, the nation’s employers shed jobs, 84,000 last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.  In all, 605,000 jobs have been lost since January.  The steady rise in unemployment, from 5.7 percent in July and 5 percent in April, is one that many economists associate with recession.

U.S. Jobless Rate Climbs Past 6%, Highest Since ’03

By Louis Uchitelle

The New York Times.

September 5, 2008

If you are among the rich or the Right who deny health care coverage to all children, and to every citizen do not speak of the millions who must declare bankruptcy due to an illness.  Do not tell the tale the  will push people away from you at the polls.  If you have nothing, good to say of the medical coverage your Administration will offer say nothing at all.  Surely, you cannot quote the analysis.  You do not wish for people to ponder.

In the July 23 update of its analysis, Tax Policy Center (TPC) added a preliminary estimate of the candidates’ health care proposals.  Because the campaigns did not provide complete plans, TPC assumed certain details.  We conclude that the McCain plan, which would replace the current exclusion for employer-paid premiums with a refundable income tax credit of up to $5000 for anyone purchasing of health insurance and make other changes to the healthcare system, would increase the deficit by $1.3 trillion over 10 years and modestly trim the number of uninsured.  

The Obama plan, which would make relatively low-cost insurance available to everyone through non-group pools and subsidize premiums for low and moderate-income households, would cost $1.6 trillion, but would also cover virtually all children and many currently uninsured adults.

A Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans

Executive Summary of the August 15, 2008 analysis

By Roberton Williams and Howard Gleckman

Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

As a candidate who wishes to tax the Middle Class, and not the affluent, do not tell the masses what you will do once in the Oval Office.  They cannot know for a common man or woman will not cast a ballot if they see or hear the projected statistics.  There is no need to remind millions of Americans of what will alienate them, the actual reality.

The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers (see Figure 2).  By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually.  Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase-a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.

McCain would lift after-tax incomes an average of about 3 percent, or $1,400 annually, for middle-income taxpayers by 2012.  But, in sharp contrast to Obama, he would cut taxes for those in the top 1% by more than $125,000, raising their after-tax income an average 9.5 percent.

A Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans

Executive Summary of the August 15, 2008 analysis

By Roberton Williams and Howard Gleckman

Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

Say nothing or say what will generate gratitude for you, for your service, for your chutzpah.  Be bold.  Be brave.  Be brassy.  Be brazen, just be safe.  Say nothing of what will bring attention to you.  Divorce yourself from your political past and your Party.  Be the agent of covert change.  Certainly, that is what citizens who know nothing of what you have not said will believe in.

Speeches or Solutions

Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention Part 1

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Tonight Hillary Clinton, I thank you.  Your speech was sensational.  The words were welcome.  A call for unity could not be more needed.  I believe only you could make this plea in a meaningful manner.  As grateful as I am, and indeed, I am truly pleased that you spoke as you did. I wonder if this pronouncement, as presented, will solve what some see as the dilemma of the disaffected.  Will your words alleviate the concern too often expressed about the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama?

After more than a year of harsh criticism from you Senator Clinton, might the chasm within the Party and this country be too great to counter in a single speech, particularly one that did not address the countless serious concerns you, yourself raised for so long.  Time does not heal the wounds words wield.  Only assiduous treatment lessens the lesions.  Hence, I share my trepidation.

As I reflect, I cannot help but acknowledge as the Republicans did immediately.  Your expressions, as glorious as they were, spoke to a compromise, not confidence in the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.  

As committed as you claim to be, you neglected to endorse the man, Barack Obama.  The support you offered was for the Party, the platform, and not for the Senator from Illinois.  Thus, Americans will read the Republican response, and react.  

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds issued this response: ??”Senator Clinton ran her presidential campaign making clear that Barack Obama is not prepared to lead as commander in chief. Nowhere tonight did she alter that assessment. Nowhere tonight did she say that Barack Obama is ready to lead. Millions of Hillary Clinton supporters and millions of Americans remain concerned about whether Barack Obama is ready to be President.”

Many will remain reluctant.  People will ask; does Barack Obama offer the change we can believe in.  While you were gracious enough to state, that you do not approve the McCain campaign commercials that feature you, these advertisements continue to air.  Pointed statements, not rejected have power.  When a prominent figure proclaims as you did, that too is forceful.

The American public is being bombarded with the woeful words you offered for near nineteen months.  The people hear your heartfelt declarations, just as they did during the primaries.  Statements of disdain for President hopeful Barack Obama resonate when these are not rescinded.

For months, you Senator Clinton, said Barack Obama was not qualified to be Commander-In-Chief.  He was too inexperienced.  He would not provide health insurance for all Americans.  Many of your supporters said he was not truly Progressive.  They clamored; Barack Obama could not possibly understand what it means to be a woman, to be paid less, and to be passed over.  The Illinois Senator would not fight for causes important to the common folk.  Senator Clinton, you frequently voiced your faith.  Barack Obama was but a man who could speak well, not a person of substance who offered solutions.  Now, we discover your most ardent supporters, advisors and top fundraisers do not wish to remain in Denver longer than they think they must.  They will stay to hear Hill and Bill, then, they will leave.  Tonight, you asked the questions.

I want you — I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me, or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him?

Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids?

Were you in it for that young boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?

Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

On the surface, it would seem those closest to you have answered your queries in a manner that could cause greater concern.  Clinton Advisers Skipping Obama Speech.  I understand that schedules may preclude a presence at the Convention on Thursday for most of these persons.  Nonetheless, in a time such as this, any action can be twisted.  A truth can be turned.

Appearances have authority.  In this moment, there are too many messages, too many contradictory communications, verbal, and on video.  Thus, as I applaud you, I implore you.  Please, Senator Clinton might you do a bit more to secure the dream of a Democratic President in 2008.  Please speak to the quality and qualifications of Barack Obama.  If you cannot do that, I will again be left to wonder.  Speeches or solutions.  

You are correct Senator Clinton; that may be the choice in 2008.  However, it seems that the potential President Obama offers solutions.  You gave a great speech.   Still, I believe there is only one way we can hope to nullify what you have done through your numerous denunciations.

Senator Clinton, I know not whether your legacy is at stake.  I do trust the State of the Union is at risk.  Please, if you care about our country I invite you to speak specifically  and unequivocally about Barack Obama, the man, the candidate, and our potential Commander-In-Chief.  Tell us all that you trust him to be credible.  Assure us that he cares about the common people.  Only you First Lady Clinton can assuage any doubts.  

Please Senator reassure Americans and say, Barack Obama is ready to be president!

If you would, please be both the brilliant speaker and the solution.  Again, I appreciate your performance this evening.  I yearn to sincerely show gratitude for what you might say tomorrow, and the next day, and every day.  I beseech you.  Help ensure Democrats are unified.  Do what you can to achieve a change.  Wholeheartedly, tell us you want Barack Obama to be President of the United States.  I thank you.

Sources for Speeches or Solutions . . .

Michelle Obama, Americans Are the Change We Can Believe In

Michelle Obama Keynote Address at Democratic National Convention

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

I had the incredible privilege of hearing, seeing, and being with the glorious Michele Obama a few weeks ago.  Near a month earlier, I listened intently to the speech she shared in Miami.  It was in the twilight of the day when Michelle Obama presented just a bit of the story she told the nation this evening.  Although, at that event, the entirety of her narrative was yet to be revealed, I knew then, that this woman was, is wondrous.  I said so when given the chance.

On that auspicious occasion, as Michelle Obama held my hands and looked me in the eyes, I spoke with the mother of Sasha and Malia, the individual I hope will be our First Lady.  I expressed my faith.  This sweet and sensational being, Michelle Obama is the change I can believe in.  She smiled gently.  We each trusted the truth that she and her husband Barack often offer; genuine reformation will not come unless we, the people, all of us, take part in our political system.

Now, in Denver, as she stands on the stage, in front of an audience that reaches further than can be seen from the podium, Michelle Obama related the saga that is yours, mine, and ours.   Again, she touched hearts.  She tenderly shared her tale.  Her life experience is average, American, exceptional, and exemplary.  Michele Obama is as we, the ordinary people, are.  

As a child, she believed.  Without the opportunities afforded to those born into opulence the two achieved beyond what many imagined possible.  

Tonight, we, every citizen of the United States, is asked to accomplish great feats, just as the Obama family has.  Here is our chance, our opportunity.  We can see the prospect of what might be.  The question is, will we embrace it?  Will we, the people pursue our own dreams?  Perchance, we might be inspired.

Change is a challenge.  Most of us chose transformation slowly.  We accept what might be bit by bit.   Our betterment is a progression.  Possibly, tonight we have we have sensed a glimmer of hope.  Might we be encouraged to believe, to achieve, just as I was when I first encountered Michelle Obama.  Might today be the day in which we begin to hold hands, walk with our heads high, confident that we, each of us, can be the change we believe in.

Please peruse the text, the transcript.  The words may be the inspiration you, I, we need.

Michelle Obama’s Remarks at the Democratic Convention

August 26, 2008


The following is the text of the remarks by Michelle Obama, the wife of Senator Barack Obama, on Monday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.

As you might imagine, for Barack, running for President is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother Craig. I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At six-foot-six, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too…literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me – he was watching over me.

And he’s been there for me every step of the way since that clear February day 19 months ago, when – with little more than our faith in each other and a hunger for change – we joined my husband, Barack Obama, on the improbable journey that’s brought us to this moment.

But each of us also comes here tonight by way of our own improbable journey.

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world – they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future – and all our children’s future – is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter – raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

My Dad was our rock. Although he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in his early thirties, he was our provider, our champion, our hero. As he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk, it took him longer to get dressed in the morning. But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing – even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my Mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and worked a little harder.

He and my mom poured everything they had into me and Craig. It was the greatest gift a child can receive: never doubting for a single minute that you’re loved, and cherished, and have a place in this world. And thanks to their faith and hard work, we both were able to go on to college. So I know firsthand from their lives – and mine – that the American Dream endures.

And you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that even though he had this funny name, even though he’d grown up all the way across the continent in Hawaii, his family was so much like mine. He was raised by grandparents who were working class folks just like my parents, and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. Like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities they never had themselves. And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.

And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children – and all children in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up. And he’d been invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.

The people gathered together that day were ordinary folks doing the best they could to build a good life. They were parents living paycheck to paycheck; grandparents trying to get by on a fixed income; men frustrated that they couldn’t support their families after their jobs disappeared. Those folks weren’t asking for a handout or a shortcut. They were ready to work – they wanted to contribute. They believed – like you and I believe – that America should be a place where you can make it if you try.

Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about “The world as it is” and “The world as it should be.” And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and settle for the world as it is – even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we know what our world should look like. We know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves – to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn’t that the great American story?

It’s the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high school gyms – people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had – refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history – knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country: People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift – without disappointment, without regret – that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

The young people across America serving our communities – teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters – and sons – can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

And in my own life, in my own small way, I’ve tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That’s why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us – no matter what our age or background or walk of life – each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation.

It’s a belief Barack shares – a belief at the heart of his life’s work.

It’s what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe – working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades, but with good jobs and benefits and health care – including mental health care.

That’s why he’s running – to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That’s what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has – by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your background is, or what party – if any – you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us – our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future – is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

It was strong enough to bring hope to those neighborhoods in Chicago.

It was strong enough to bring hope to the mother he met worried about her child in Iraq; hope to the man who’s unemployed, but can’t afford gas to find a job; hope to the student working nights to pay for her sister’s health care, sleeping just a few hours a day.

And it was strong enough to bring hope to people who came out on a cold Iowa night and became the first voices in this chorus for change that’s been echoed by millions of Americans from every corner of this nation.

Millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams; that Barack will fight for people like them; and that Barack will finally bring the change we need.

And in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they – and your sons and daughters – will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country – where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House – we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

So tonight, in honor of my father’s memory and my daughters’ future – out of gratitude to those whose triumphs we mark this week, and those whose everyday sacrifices have brought us to this moment – let us devote ourselves to finishing their work; let us work together to fulfill their hopes; and let us stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

References . . .

A people’s strategy against perpetual war

© copyright 2008 Michael Prysner.  Party for Socialism and Liberation

Challenging the bipartisan imperialist consensus

On the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I sat strapped in a cargo plane that swooped through the night sky dodging anti-aircraft guns. As we sat in darkness, not knowing if we would ever reach the ground, we suddenly dropped quickly from the air and slammed hard against a makeshift runway. Our plane was the first to land in the north. Our mission was to get in quickly, take the required territory and be relieved by heavy armor.

As we took our first steps on Iraqi soil, we expected to get back on a plane and leave within two months. Month by month, our deployment was extended. We read of the overwhelming military defeat across the country, and wrote home to our families that we would see them soon. We began to pack our bags as we watched the president declare the “mission accomplished,” expecting our return orders to come any day. We watched the blazing summer come and go, just trying to get through one more month.

We grew bitter as we ate a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and stale bread as the president smiled for photos in Baghdad holding a giant fake turkey. We spent the day dodging bullets when Saddam Hussein was captured, thinking maybe-just maybe-it was finally over. Even as we strapped back into a cargo plane a year after we landed, we expected to circle right back and continue to watch the months pass through a rifle sight. This was a reality for some; many in my unit were sent back within two months of returning home. Anyone who could not find a way to get out of the army was stop-lossed and sent back for at least one more tour.

Essentially, my year of watching the months pass represents the Iraq war as a whole-thinking it was going to end, but seeing only an increase in the size and brutality of the occupation. With the “end of major combat operations” declared in the early months of the war, we saw all-out sieges on Fallujah, Basra and other cities where the Iraqi people had stood up to the occupiers.

The American and Iraqi people demanded that the troops be withdrawn, yet they got the opposite-a massive troop surge. The surge, sold to the public as a temporary measure to bring an end to the war, has served as a justification to keep the number of soldiers in Iraq well above pre-surge levels. Furthermore, the number of U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq has been supplemented by private mercenaries, paid generously by the Pentagon to terrorize Iraqis with no legal consequences.

To ring in the New Year-the fifth of the occupation-2008 began with the war’s largest bombing campaign on one of Baghdad’s most populous suburbs. Month by month, the body count rises and the imperialist occupation of Iraq deepens.

Why not just vote for change?

In 2006, the masses of American people opposed to the war put their hopes in the Democratic Party, handing it control of Congress in what was widely understood as a vote against the war. Since then, funding for the war has continued to flow unimpeded and General Petraeus and the Bush administration have continued on their destructive warpath. In June alone, Congress approved $165 billion to fund the war without restrictions.

Now, many who still fail to recognize the true loyalties of the Democratic Party have thrown their support behind another Democrat posing as an anti-war candidate. Barack Obama, who began his campaign promising a total withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months-simultaneously pledging imperialist intervention elsewhere in the Middle East-has also begun to shift his position to prolong the occupation.

Obama now promises, using ambiguous language, to remove “U.S. combat troops” from Iraq. “Combat troops” do not include residual forces such as “counterterrorism” units, military training personnel and force protection units. Nor does it include private contractors and mercenaries, which number over 180,000.

Obama’s Iraq policy co-coordinator, Colin Kahl, advocates a residual force of up to 80,000 U.S. troops. Obama advocates a “careful” withdrawal, essentially subject to the advice of military commanders. General Petraeus, widely known for promoting a massive, brutal and indefinite occupation of Iraq, has Obama’s full support as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command. This position gives General Petraeus full control over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all U.S. military operations in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia.

Those who believe that they can “vote for change” will be voting for a slightly modified imperialist policy.

Charting an independent path

The reality is that the war against Iraq will continue unabated. This is glaringly evident in the new security agreement now being forced upon the Iraqi people. Keeping with the trend of further entrenching and increasing the occupation while the Iraqi masses are demanding an end to it, the security deal will guarantee the U.S. military 58 permanent military bases in Iraq-nearly double the current number-while once the public was assured that there would be no permanent military bases.

The security plan will strip Iraq of whatever sovereignty it has left, cementing its de facto status as a U.S. colony. It will give Washington control over Iraqi airspace and the ability to use Iraq as a staging ground for military attacks elsewhere in the region. It will grant U.S. troops and private contractors full immunity from Iraqi law, giving them the right to raid any house and to arrest and interrogate Iraqi citizens without permission from the Iraqi government

Not only does the security plan demonstrate the U.S. government’s determination to forever control Iraq, it sets the stage for further conquest in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that, if politicians in Washington get their way, the war will continue for years to come. Months will pass as they debate the complexities of the war and develop new strategies aimed at giving the appearance that the end is just around the corner. Months will pass and the lives of Iraqis will continue to be destroyed and soldiers will continue to strap into cargo planes only to be snuck home at night in flag-draped coffins.

The plan to permanently occupy and terrorize Iraq is staring us in the face. We cannot vote for change; change will come the way it always does in society-through the efforts of a dedicated, militant mass movement against the heinous crimes of those who claim to represent us. Without such a movement, the imperialist plans for the Middle East will stay on course, and war will be a permanent reality.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s congressional candidate in Florida’s 22nd District. Click here to read more about his campaign. Click here to read more about other PSL candidates running in local and national elections.

Poll Greeting on Super Tuesday

copyright © 2008. Jerry Northington.  campaign website or on the campaign blog.

The big day finally arrived.  Delaware is one of the Super Tuesday states this year.  As a member of the Democratic Party and a staunch supporter, I volunteered to be a poll greeter this year.  The polling place is about 200 yards from home so the task did not involve any travel or troublesome arrangements.

The day dawned chilly and gray.  My first shift began at 7AM at the local high school.  I arrived to find large numbers of students arriving along with small numbers of voters.  By the time school began for the day the place became very quiet indeed.  Voter turnout for the early shift was light by usual standards of the day.  Maybe 40-50 registered Democrats stopped during the 90-minute morning shift.  

Heading down the street with my new Delaware Democratic Party T-shirt as a cover and an advertisement.

At the site in full regalia waiting for voters to arrive.

The conversations were interesting.  My job was to meet people as they left the poll and solicit volunteers for the Democratic Neighborhood Leader program.  A handout was provided by the DNC to the state party for distribution.  People who wish to volunteer for the program may then fill out a card and submit to the state for more materials and instructions.

Many interactions were answering questions about Delaware’s primary system (we have a closed primary) and about parking.  There were only a few spaces marked off for voters and others were sharing the lot with students and teachers.  Most of the voters encountered were registered Democratic.  The numbers of professed Republicans was a small minority and at least three of them claim to be voting Democratic in November.  One man said he was choosing a Republican

to vote against.

One group of three Republicans stopped to talk.  One young man in the group wished to know what message the Democratic Party had to offer.  One man suggested before one voted for change one had better be certain what that change meant.  The three were congenial and polite but clearly were not interested in any offering from the Democratic Party.  Their conversation could have come from any of the talking heads of the right wing.

Some people were already involved in the program.  One man is a local State Representative active in party politics.  He stopped to put up his own campaign sign.  That led to a couple of funny conversations about all the candidates on the ballot.

According to reports from people and poll workers, there were various misunderstandings.  Several candidates who have withdrawn from the race remain on the ballot as there was no time to change the machines and be ready for today.  Many people were confused about registration.  Under the Delaware closed primary system one is only allowed to vote in the primary for which one is registered.  Not only were people confused by the system but some were outright angry.  There is much room for improvement in voter education if those people are any indicator of the current state of affairs.

Only two people outright refused to accept the handout.  Most were cheerful and gracious.  A few stopped to converse and be certain what was being offered.  Most took the piece and continued walking with few or no words of any sort.  Only one was really grumpy.  A registered republican, she voiced disgust with the entire system.

Two people did offer words of encouragement including one comment

You are very brave to stand out here.

Coming from a professed Independent I don’t know quite what to make of that one.

The midday session was much more of the same with low turnouts and gray weather.  At least the temperature was up a bit, but much of the time was spent alone with no voters to approach.  The percentage of Republican voters increased to about 50:50 as opposed to the early session.

All in all a fine day was had.  The experience was a good in nearly every aspect.  I am gratified by having done my duty in support of the party.  

Campaign plug.  I am running for Congress, DE-AL.  Please check out the campaign website or the ActBlue page.  Many thanks.

Clinton And Obama Call For Truce; Racism Battles On

Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest Toledo, Ohio 2000

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

On the first day of the New Year, a banner headline screamed to elite readers of The Wall Street Journal, “What Kucinich Saw: Witnesses Described His Close Encounter.”  Murdoch News Corporation Journalist, Michael M. Phillips offered what booklovers yearn to learn, the personal history of each of the players in a Presidential campaign.  Tall tales and tittle-tattle capture the attention of Americans.  The substantive information provided in these yarns, is scant.  Nonetheless, the entertainment value is vast.  An expectant public wants the dirt.  We are happy to sling mud and spit in the face of historical leaders.  

It is far easier, and perhaps more pleasurable to speak superfluously than it is to delve into the real issues.  The effects of economy on the average American, the wars and the carnage that is expected to continue long into the future, health care, expensive and inadequate as it is, and especially racism are thought too delicate to fully discus.  This truth was made more obvious, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed to a truce for the “good of the country,” the Democratic Party, and for their respective campaigns.

The meaningful discourse, now purposely thwarted by the two most prominent Presidential hopefuls, began when the former First Lady spoke of the democratic system and how change is created in American society.  Senator Clinton said, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Clinton continued. “It took a president to get it done.”

The comment, “unfortunate, and ill-advised” as defined by rival aspirant, Barack Obama stirred much debate.  Afro-Americans nationwide stopped and reassessed their stance.  Influential Blacks in Congress cautioned the candidate.  

Clinton has been criticized over the last week by some prominent African-American political leaders for remarks they perceived as diminishing the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington, D.C., in Congress, joined the chorus, warning Clinton to “watch out” in her comments on race.  “The black community is not only sensitive on race,” Norton said in an interview on Bloomberg Television today.  It is “super-sensitive on race.”

Loyal Clinton supporter, Andrew Young, a Black leader, and a trusted aide to Martin Luther King, remained faithful, as did others Clinton devotees.

However, amongst the electorate, those less famous for the active role they played in the fight for freedom, there was much rage.   Many recall the  sacrifice Black people made, the blood spilled, and the dream more real today with thanks to reverend King and his commitment to Civil Rights.  Battered and bruised, peaceful individuals held onto their hope.  They trusted they could change a nation mired in racism.  Black folks learned to believe, inspired by a man who made history, and who transformed a way of life, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.  Hence, for countless Americans, Hillary Clinton’s remark was unwarranted, unwise, and diminished the achievements of Reverend King.  Her statement was equally dismissive of the tens of thousands who stood beside Martin.

Clinton argued her words were misunderstood.  Her intent distorted.  She reminded Americans of her history, and her close affiliation with Black causes and Afro-American leaders.  Accusations flew across the aisles.  For days, the rhetoric raged on.  

In truth, the words could have come from any candidate, or any individual.  The pronouncement could have easily been made on the streets.  For dark-skinned persons the proclamation speaks to the profound prejudice in America.  For the average Joe or Joanne,  Clinton’s observation verified what they believe.  There is no reason to hope that a man or a community can change what is.  Common people are powerless.  In American, people think that only the President of the United States has the authority to accomplish what others cannot.

In the “Land of the free and home of the brave”, most people believe they cannot make a difference.  Americans consider the government as separate from self.  The public feels powerless.  No matter the race, religion, or creed most Americans think they, as individuals, can do little to create change.  For the majority of the population, it makes sense that a prominent Civil Rights Leader could not realize his dream without the assistance of a higher Earthly authority.

Members of many an activist group think themselves ineffective.  Efforts to transform the country, and the planet, are great.  Yet, the masses do not see what advocates do.  On the rare occasions that they do, citizens retort “You cannot fight City Hall, so why try.”  Perchance, that is the reason that the mainstream media does not report on rallies, or possibly, those in power, the influential individuals who control American democracy do not cover dissent for they do not wish to sanction the little guys and gals.  Attempts to alter the establishment appear futile, or are accepted as such.

Conventional wisdom is we, the people, do not control what occurs in this country.  Legislators make laws.  The President of the United States ratifies the regulations.  There is little regard for the will of the people.  Once in a while, an Act may benefit the common folk.  Such was the circumstance in 1964.  However, for the most part, the little people, particularly persons of color, cannot expect to alter a nation, or its citizenry.  In this country, people accept the process.  Hence, initially, few questioned Senator Clinton’s words.  Indeed, countless, thought the statement accurate.  Some dark-skinned community leaders, who supported the Senator prior to the statement, avowed their continued commitment.

Residents of the United States, mostly, remain resistant to the rhetoric, In the “Land of the free,” it is easy to understand that while feathers might be ruffled and the hairs on the back of many a neck might be raised the candidates and the constituents will go on as though this topic is not as important as others.  In America, apathy abounds, and why not.  People have no reason to hope.  They do not trust that they, as individuals, or even as community leaders with millions of followers, can transform this nation.  Thus, for the majority of citizens, the Clinton comment went unnoticed.  

Nonetheless, numerous Afro-Americans heard the words and were disheartened.  Hillary Clinton’s spouse, Bill had long been characterized as the “First Black President of the United States.”  The two, together, husband and wife, were said to have done more to improve the circumstances of Afro-Americans than any other “Administration” had.  Among those who felt close to the Clinton’s, there was wonderment.  How could a Clinton make such a statement?  Hilary is not Bill.  Her background and upbringing are significantly different from his.  Hillary Clinton’s childhood and adult pursuits may be more typical for white Americans

For many Caucasians, and perchance for Hillary Clinton the uproar over her analysis of what occurs in America before change can occur, seemed a mystery.  Countless white Americans did not take offense; nor did they comprehend why Black persons might have.  In truth, incalculable numbers of light-skinned individuals never understood much of what Black Americans thought, or think.  White people hear that African Americans consider Bill Clinton the “First Black President.”  For Anglos this belief was and is a paradox.  Some Anglos admittedly struggle  to believe this man is beloved by people of color.  Essayist, Suzy Hansen, of Salon fame, was among the befuddled.  Hansen confessed the determination made no sense to her.  The Columnist recounts her observations.

In her now-famous defense of a scandal-plagued Bill Clinton, Nobel prizewinner Toni Morrison, went so far as to call him “our first black president.  Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.”  “Clinton,” Morrison wrote in the 1998 New Yorker essay, “displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

I remember reading Morrison’s essay and choking.  Morrison’s estimation of Clinton’s blackness seemed shallow, offensive and beside the point.  At the time, I wasn’t the only one unnerved, and I’m sure many people still have problems with calling Clinton “the first black president,” no matter how Morrison intended it.  Yet, in retrospect, I realize that my sharp reaction had something to do with age: I was pretty young when Reagan and Bush were in office.  Like most white people, I didn’t understand how Clinton related to the African-American community; I also had a limited memory of how other presidents treated blacks.


In America other Presidents, all ivory skin leaders did not relate to the difficulties of dark-complexioned persons.  The prim and proper alabaster population, daily, disregarded the plight of people of African descent.  Black persons were to be seen, working, and not heard.  For centuries, Americans, White, Anglo, Saxon Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Agnostic, and Atheist alike thought Afro-Americans were less valuable, less intelligence, less important than their Caucasian brethren.  Indeed, paler pinkish persons did not feel remotely related to those whose skin shone a purplish brown hue.

For centuries, Caucasians sought to control the Black man or woman.  When they realized the error of their ways, white people did not know what to say, or do.  Subtly, Anglos shunned African-American citizens.  Oh, smiles were exchanged.  Cordialities could be heard.  However, in sallow-skinned abodes across the nation, individual spoke from there heart.  “Girl, you better not marry a Black man.”  “Son, don’t you be seen with that girl.  You will put the family to shame.”  On the surface, in public, white folks may have been polite.  They may appear accepting; however, ask them what they think in the quiet of their homes . . .

In recent years, as Black people gained a modicum of power, whites withered when in their presence.  Caucasians embarrassed to divulge the disdain that had been passed down for generations, worked to present a posture of approval.  In truth, for a vast number of Caucasians, tolerance was the tone.  There was an unspoken tension between the races.  In fact, today this strain still exists.  Yet, the majority of Americans wish to believe the anxiety does not exist.  There is much pressure not to be thought of as prejudiced.

Bill Clinton was not, and is not defined as a bigot.  Black Americans felt he truly felt their pain.  President Clinton had lived as Black persons do.  He could and does relate.  African-Americans appreciate this.  Journalist, Suzy Hansen wanted to explore why this might be.  In an interview with DeWayne Wickham, Hansen, and her readers, learned “Why blacks love Bill Clinton.”  DeWayne Wickham, a former adjunct faculty member in the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism, an occasional presenter at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, an author and a columnist for USA Today offered his informed opinion in response to Hansen’s questions.

You do explain how poorly previous presidents have treated — or haven’t treated at all, for that matter — the black community.  Do you think the black community’s enthusiasm for Clinton has something to do with the fact that Reagan and Bush were particularly insensitive? Was Clinton refreshing?

Ronald Reagan and George Bush I were part of a long line of presidents who just didn’t get it when it comes to people of color, particularly African-Americans. Of the first 15 presidents, 13 of them were staunch supporters of slavery. Eight of them actually owned slaves. Only John Adams and John Quincy Adams had no stomach for the institution. When you start talking about 41 presidents, you’ve already lost a third of them right there.

Then, what you find is that most presidents ran away from the black community. It was a difficult issue during slavery for white politicians. It was a difficult issue in the post-slavery period for politicians. It was a tough issue for a lot of presidents during the Jim Crow era when blacks were knocking on doors, demanding anti-lynching legislation, and Southern politicians were coming into the halls of Congress and the Oval Office, saying, “Not on our watch will you push that kind of legislation upon our people.”

The legislators had the power of the vote in Congress, and African-Americans had only, on their side, the moral high ground. Most presidents opted for the power of the vote. You have to get up to FDR and LBJ — on whose watch the important civil rights legislation in our history was passed. So, the list is very short.

What makes Clinton special is that he found a way to connect with us that was personal and up close. He convinced us in words and in deeds that this relationship was at least partly in his heart, as well as in his head. This guy grew up in the back of his grandfather’s store in Hope, Ark., hanging out with black kids.

Perhaps, this explanation helps us to understand the importance of empathy.  Bill Clinton does not differentiate between a person of one color or another, or at least he discriminates to a lesser degree than other American Presidents did, or white persons do.

Characteristically, Caucasian Americans may associate with ebony individuals; they can befriend a select few of those labeled Black.  However, unless Anglos integrate Afro-Americans into their real-life, place their dark-skin brethren in their hearts, until Anglos, by choice associate with persons of color, day in and day out, they cannot truthfully claim to be colorblind.  Yet, they do, and then make statements such as the one Hillary Clinton offered.

A Black American; however, knows to the core, in the United States, there is no equality.  Ample evidence demonstrates, just as the former First Lady implied.  “The man” [or powerful white woman] must determine what is best for America.  An influential leader, rarely if ever a person of color,  must do what needs to be done.  Only a person strong enough to be placed in Oval Office can better the nation.  Thus far, no Black person has been thought to be of the caliber necessary to be President of the United States.

Americans claim Afro-Americans are not experienced enough in matters of State.  They are not competent to lead a country.  Ebony applicants lack the talent or skills necessary for the job, or so citizens of this country proclaim.  There is always a reason not to advance a Black candidate beyond where he or she is.  In the past, and possibly in the future, a white individual can and likely will fill the boots of President of the United States, of a corporation, or a community board, not because they are better suited for the position, it is just not quite time to leave racism behind.

Even Bill Clinton accepted this truth.  When President Clinton decided to withdraw his nomination of Civil Rights Lawyer, Lani Guinier  for Assistant Attorney General, his actions spoke volumes.  Lani Guinier expressed her deep and sincere frustration for the fact that we live in a nation where people choose to distort the history of a Black Leader.  Guinier was sorrowful; she did not have an opportunity to defend herself against the inaccuracy of numerous attacks.  Prominent Civil Rights Lawyer, Lani Guinier could not publicly correct the misrepresentations of her record.  However, she added her acknowledgement that a “divisive debate” over race was the “last thing” this nation could afford.

In taking the latter position, though not in her larger views, Guinier typified the current stance of most American liberals and much of the left by implying that the Democratic Party’s hesitantly progressive politics, is such a fragile flower that it cannot survive even the frank discussion of racism, let alone the pursuit of ‘race specific reform initiatives.

After a stint of resignation for the reality that was in the 1990s, when Lani Guinier agreed to forfeit her nomination, and forego the potentially conflict-ridden conversation the reflective Harvard Law School Professor and co-Author of The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy spoke out.  In a 2004 an article titled A People’s Democratic Platform Guinier wrote . . .

Never has it been clearer that Democrats must promote a national conversation about what it means to be a multiracial democracy.

However, this dialogue has yet to occur.  Each time the people of this country have an opportunity to ford a new frontier, and fashion a multiracial democracy, we forego the necessary discussion.  We rather not chat about what could be, let alone act on alternatives.

Two years after Guinier’s declaration Americans were again confronted with the realities of racism. The race for a Tennessee Senate seat was on.  Black American, Representative Harold E. Ford Junior, the Democratic candidate from Memphis whose campaign for the Senate was considered among the most hopeful in a mid-term election was doing well in the polls.  People in the community gravitated towards the refined son of a former Congressman.  A lawyer in his own right, this sophisticated genteel gentleman seemed ideal to replace retiring Senator Bill Frist.  The Republicans feared the rise of Harold Ford, and decided to feed on the fears of the white American electorate.  Republicans framed an advertisement and fashioned a message that is ever-present in America.

The commercial, financed by the Republican National Committee, was aimed at Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., the black Democrat from Memphis whose campaign for the Senate this year has kept the Republicans on the defensive in a state where they never expected to have trouble holding the seat.

The spot, which was first broadcast last week and was disappearing from the air on Wednesday, featured a series of people in mock man-on-the street interviews talking sarcastically about Mr. Ford and his stands on issues including the estate tax and national security.

The controversy erupted over one of the people featured: an attractive white woman, bare-shouldered, who declares that she met Mr. Ford at a “Playboy party,” and closes the commercial by looking into the camera and saying, with a wink, “Harold, call me.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ford, who is single, said he was one of 3,000 people who attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl last year in Jacksonville, Fla.

Critics asserted that the advertisement was a clear effort to play to racial stereotypes and fears, essentially, playing the race card in an election where Mr. Ford is trying to break a century of history and become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Hilary Shelton, director of the N.A.A.C.P.’s Washington bureau, said the spot took aim at the sensitivities many Americans still have about interracial dating.

John Geer, a professor at Vanderbilt University and a specialist in political advertising, said that it “is playing to a lot of fears” and “frankly makes the Willie Horton ad look like child’s play.”

Professor Geer was alluding to the case of a convicted black murderer used in Republican commercials contending that the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, Michael S. Dukakis, was soft on crime.

Mr. Ford has been campaigning as an independent, new generation Democrat dedicated to changing the atmosphere in Washington; to putting more attention on the needs of the middle class and on bread and butter issues like health care and to bringing a fresh approach to the war in Iraq. He has strongly resisted Republican efforts to pigeonhole him as a liberal.

While the label Liberal can be avoided, other terms will suffice.  A Progressive cannot wipe away the color of their skin.  Harold Ford was unable to separate himself from the image of a single Black man on the prowl for a white woman, or so we might surmise.  The quality candidate did not win the Senate seat.

Barack Obama may try not to draw attention to what could be problematic for his campaign, the race factor; nonetheless, accomplished and admired as he is, he cannot negate that his skin color, and how white persons react to any claim that causes white America concern will influence the vote.

In Nevada, registered voters received robot-calls.  The intent was to remind white Americans, already anxious, of what they feared most.  Barack Obama is not as he appears.  A Harvard scholar, a former State Senator, a United States Senator, and a Presidential aspirant, is just as our enemies.  He must be. His middle name is Hussein and . . .

“I’m calling with some important information about Barack Hussein Obama,” says the anonymous caller. “Barack Hussein Obama says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special interest groups, but the record is clear that he does.”

The male voice concludes: “You just can’t take a chance on Barack Hussein Obama.”

In America, we do not speak of race; however, differences in skin color are always on our mind.  Caucasians see a Black person walking in a “white neighborhood” and they wonder why.  If whites hear of a crime, they assume the perpetrator is Black.  Pink-skin people work to demonstrate that they believe in equality; however, since they, themselves feel hopeless and not among the authorities that rule it is difficult for them to accept that there was a man, and a time, when Black people moved mountains of hate.

Nonetheless, whites try to understand, on occasion.  Caucasians set aside a day to honor the Civil Right s Leader, Martin Luther King Junior.  A holiday was established so that all might revere and remember the dream.

As the turmoil and talk of the truce faded, Americans celebrated.  On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, as the nation observed the anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s birth, and settled back into oblivion, satisfied that neither Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama would mention the unspeakable, the headlines screamed again, “Beware!”  Beware!  Black People cannot to be trusted.  Weary white Americans, woeful of a world they have never known, are willing to believe Barack Obama must not be placed in a position of power.  Again, Americans are easily absorbed in distraction.  As witnessed earlier, some subscribe to the popular stories.  They spread rumors.  True, false, or not as a narrative might lead us to believe, Americans reveled in the chatter, before Hillary Clinton touched a nerve, and will again.  People hope gossip will lessen the pain or at least help them to avoid discussions of the truer issues.  If accusations are made against one person, than we need not look at the blanket of bigotry that envelops most every white American.  

A column in the Washington Post this morning by Richard Cohen reported that Trumpet Magazine, founded by Obama’s pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright had named Louis Farrakhan “Man of the Year” in 2007.

Wright wrote that Farrakhan “truly epitomized greatness.”

Obama’s campaign released a statement from the senator earlier today.

“I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan,” Obama said in the statement. “I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.”

Cohen reported in the Post that Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, had said that Obama and his minister disagree on many issues and Farrakhan was one of them.

However, in the Anglo eyes of many an American, extremist, and a man defined as Anti-Semite by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Louis Farrakhan and Barack do have one common bond besides the association with the Pastor, each is a darkly complexioned man in America.  That alone is enough to end a political career, let alone remind white Americans, this man cannot become President of the United States [and we would not want him to marry our sister.] Black Americans have been unable to ford this barrier.  An individual with hope cannot change what is . . .  at least that is the perception most Americans hold dear.

The accepted conviction is America needs an Administrator.  We must have an overseer, an authority figure to guide us.  When citizens select a President, we look for a known quantity, an established leader.  In this country, we have a history of elite rule and we are comfortable with the familiar.  Bill Clinton was thought exceptional for although he was a Rhodes Scholar, he was also a child of poverty.  Bill Clinton’s common roots and authentic comfort with people of color entitled him to the title of “The First Black President.”

When the Clinton’s were in the White House, Blacks were welcome.  They did not need to enter through the back door.  An invitation to be  part of society in a more real sense was appreciated.  No other President accepted Afro-Americans as Bill Clinton had.  The contrast between what had always been and what was in a Clinton Administration was great.

However, we must ponder; was the title bestowed, in part because those who never fully expected to see a Black man or woman in the Oval Office during the course of their lives, those who have been poor  and beaten-down for so long are grateful for small favors.  Black persons have seen the bottom.  Thus, even a small step above the bedrock seemed to be sky-high.  

Might we consider the more drastic change that occurred with thanks to a man with a dream.  While Marin Luther King Junior may not have signed the papers that allowed for a freedom Black Americans had never known, without his efforts, without his will, without the masses that followed his lead, no President would have dared to move the mountain that obstructed our unified view of what could be accomplished.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson would never have thought to do as he did.  Bill Clinton could not have conceived of the possibilities, unless or until Doctor King and millions of Americans with hope in their hearts had gathered together to shatter the notion that Black persons would silently serve as economic slaves to the white masters.

After the Hillary Clinton declaration one of those instruments of change, who served the people in a practical manner, a man who marched for civil rights, and did more to create equality than Bill Clinton might have spoke on the topic, now re-titled taboo.  Cleveland Sellers, heads the department of African-American studies at the University of South Carolina, is an Obama supporter, and a veteran of the civil rights movement.  When asked how he felt after hearing Hillary Clinton’s comment, he offered why he did not believe she felt his pain.

During the New Hampshire primary battle, Hillary Clinton made a comment about Martin Luther King that seemed, at first anyway, to diminish his role in the civil rights battle in relation to that of President Lyndon Johnson. She quickly clarified those remarks and re-emphasized the accomplishments of King, but how has that played in South Carolina??

That created some real problems, because it was an indication of a kind of insensitivity.  For a veteran of the civil rights movement-and that’s what I am-it wasn’t just Dr. King, it was all of the unsung heroes and heroines of that era. Modjeska Simkins here in South Carolina, and the Fannie Lou Hamers, and the children in Birmingham, and the people who rode the freedom buses and went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 … All of these people created the climate in which Congress felt the pressure and acted.

Mister Sellers was not the only one to express his displeasure.  Prominent persons, radio professionals, and elected officials were disenchanted.  The Clinton charm wore thin in contrast to the coldness of a claim.

In South Carolina, scene of a key showdown on January 26, where half the Democratic electorate are African Americans, black radio hosts have expressed outrage over Mrs Clinton’s remark. Now one of the state’s most influential black congressmen is hinting that he might endorse Mr Obama.

He said he was angered by what he claims were dismissive comments about Martin Luther King by Mrs Clinton. Aides to Mr Obama, who hopes to become America’s first black president, are also accusing Bill Clinton of being racially insensitive when he said in New Hampshire last week that Mr Obama’s campaign was a “fairytale.”

James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, referred to a comment made by Mrs Clinton on Monday, the day before her stunning comeback in New Hampshire set up a brutal nomination battle with Mr Obama. . . .

Mrs Clinton has since tried to clarify the comment, but the damage was done.  Mr Clyburn, who had previously said that he would stay neutral, told The New York Times that he had been “bothered a great deal” by the remarks and was rethinking his position..

Even amongst the electorate, there is much clamor.  In South Carolina, there is ample concern for the Clinton comment.  For some, Martin Luther King was able to deliver the dream, and did far more than Bill Clinton might have.  The monetary gains, while great could not have been realized without the dreamer who helped millions to believe, to speak out, and who worked to ensure the invisible people were seen.

Mac’s on Main is a popular soul food restaurant in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia. It is run by chef and City Councilman Barry Walker. The walls are decorated with signed, framed photos of blues greats like B.B. King and laminated maps of his council district. Walker is undecided but said he is unhappy with the direction the Clinton campaign has taken.

“I think they are going for broke now, going for whatever they can do,” he said.

Referring to an incident on the eve of the New Hampshire primary in which Clinton became teary-eyed while speaking to voters, Walker said, “crying isn’t going to help here.”

“She can cry all she wants, (but) black people have been crying for years. What’s going to help here is addressing the issues that are affecting us,” he said.

Joseph Free of Columbia, who was dining at the restaurant, agreed.

“They (are) … getting into the part I was hoping wouldn’t happen … (turning) the thing into a race problem,” he said.

Free’s comments reflect a kind of collective disappointment in the black community, according to Todd Shaw, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina.

“I think that African-American voters are wise in the sense that they know there is more to come. That is the fear,” he said.

Once again, apprehension triumphs.  Just as Americans accept that we must do all that we can to protect ourselves from those our leaders call foreign enemies, citizens embrace an agenda that allows us to eliminate discussion about the enemy within, racism.  

Senators Clinton and Obama decided that talk of the divide between Anglos and Afro-Americans would not be healthy.  They mutually adopted a truce to protect Americans from themselves.  The two candidates have elected to continue as they had.  Distractions dominate the campaigns.  Americans continue to engage as Wall Street Journal Columnist Phillips did.  As a country, we consider the most pertinent questions, the ones we ponder each day without prodding.

Will Barack Obama’s past drug use preclude a White House future?  Will Christian conservatives forgive Rudy Giuliani his two divorces?  Will voters forgive Hillary Clinton for forgiving Bill?

And what exactly did Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich see hovering above actress Shirley MacLaine’s house 25 years ago?

Could Dennis Kucinich, or any other human being, have seen the least likely unidentified object in the political skies, a truce between the two most prominent Presidential candidates, a permanent cease-fire. He could have as could we.  In Presidential politics, as on the streets of America, we do not speak of what is real.  Racism remains a staple in American society.  A Presidential aspirant who speaks of change through hope, is reminded of the fact that we must do as always has been done. Experience teaches us, a white person with a plan will always be more effective than a Black individual who can inspire others to dream.  

White persons want to suspend the storm, perhaps through eternity.  Black people, who know their place agree to simmer silently.  Few recall the words of the man who made a difference.  It was not President Johnson who motivated millions in droves.  Nor did Bill Clinton truly change conditions for the people of color.  It was Martin who refused to remain silent.  The message Reverend and Doctor Martin Luther King Junior carried throughout the country and into Washington District of Columbia advanced why we see today, Blacks and whites working together to bring about equality.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Junior [Civil Rights Leader

“I Have a Dream.” I Speak of it.  Do You?  . . . .

Democrats Vow To Skip Defiant States; Florida and Michigan Voters Lose

Fla. Election Controversy Pits Democrats Against Democrats

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Is it the Democrats, or Florida, that is forever the source of much elector conflict?  When votes thought to count were not calculated the country clamored.  When the butterfly ballot caused great concern, alterations were made.  Then the public called for paper ballots.  That controversy still brews.  Now, a newer, more novel approach to elections garners much attention.

An attitude of Florida, first and foremost, creates chaos amongst Democratic candidates.

Democrats vow to skip defiant states.
Six candidates agree not to campaign in those that break with the party’s calendar.  Florida and Michigan, this includes you.
By Mark Z. Barabak
Los Angeles Times

September 2, 2007

The muddled 2008 presidential nomination calendar gained some clarity Saturday — at least on the Democratic side — as the party’s major candidates agreed not to campaign in any state that defies party rules by voting earlier than allowed.

Their collective action was a blow to Florida and Michigan, two states likely to be important in the general election, which sought to enhance their clout in the nominating process as well.

Front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York followed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina in pledging to abide by the calendar set by the Democratic National Committee last summer.  The rules allow four states — Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — to vote in January.

The four “need to be first because in these states ideas count, not just money,” Edwards said in a written statement.  “This tried-and-true nominating system is the only way for voters to judge the field based on the quality of the candidate, not the depth of their war chest.”

Hours later, after Obama took the pledge, Clinton’s campaign chief issued a statement citing the four states’ “unique and special role in the nominating process” and said that the New York senator, too, would “adhere to the DNC-approved calendar.”

Three candidates running farther back in the pack — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sens. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware — said Friday they would honor the pledge, shortly after the challenge was issued in a letter co-signed by Democratic leaders in the four early states.

To campaign or not to campaign has been a vexing question facing presidential hopefuls from both major parties, who have watched the election landscape shift with every change in the political calendar.

Trying to bring order to chaos, the national Democratic and Republican parties are undertaking efforts to strip delegates from Florida, Michigan and any other state that votes outside a prescribed window.  That would greatly diminish those states’ clout because the nominating fight is all about winning delegates to the parties’ national conventions.  Take away the delegates and there’s less incentive for candidates to invest time and resources.

The political calculations are different for Republicans and Democrats, given each party’s rules.

The all-consuming desire for greater clout, particularly the want for a Democratic deliverance has given rise to a gargantuan demise in political power.  Congratulations Democrats.  Well-done Florida; once again you have destroyed any hope for an authentic change.  Amendments do not alter elections.  People do. 

Primaries are meant to provide exposure, not closure.  May the residents of Florida and Michigan gather their senses and ponder the value of traditions.  Arbitrary customs may contaminate the culture.  Mores that make sense must remain intact.  Caucasus and early elections in small states such as Iowa and New Hampshire are an integral part of the primary process. 

In these territories, a Presidential hopeful is able to meet and greet the public face to face.  Aspirants learn what is truly important to the people, and the people acquire information about the candidate that they could not in a crowd.

Let us truly look at elections and consider the possibilities that are tried, and true.  Please America, remember this is not a popularity contest.  A primary is not the general election.  Purposes differ.  Take time.  Become acquainted with more than an image.  Give those that may appear unelectable a chance to appear before you. 

Voters: viability, just as beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.  If you are unable to see the whites of the campaigners eyes in person, you know only the wonders of make-up, camera angles, political pundit reviews.  Please; I plead, analyze, assess the aspirants slowly, carefully, and if you can.  Do not allow your state to do as mine as done, eliminate access to Presidential hopefuls.

  • Democrats vow to skip defiant states. Six candidates agree not to campaign in those that break with the party’s calendar.  Florida and Michigan, this includes you.  By Mark Z. Barabak.  Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2007
  • pdf Democrats vow to skip defiant states, Six candidates agree not to campaign in those that break with the party’s calendar.  Florida and Michigan, this includes you.  By Mark Z. Barabak.  Los Angeles Times. September 2, 2007