Saturday, August 30, 2008

Think Hard

I'm running out of computer battery and on my way to Brazil, so I'll be quick.

Obama's speech.

Beautiful. Eloquent. Centrist. He marked 232 years of struggle instead of +389. He spoke of a preacher from Georgia but did not speak his name. He spoke of environmental justice then littered the floor of Invesco Center with gazillions of little red, blue and white pieces of paper (trees, sir?)

It was like watching a movie. It was unreal. And from the moment he stepped off stage, I became part of the Obama Generation. And if he becomes the next president of the United States, my children will be post-Obama children. That's the reality, folks. Deal with it.

But he did not speak his name.

I know this is a problem for those who feel that the 45 year anniversary of the March on Washington should have been showcased and highlighted by the Democratic presidential nominee. And so now that he did not, is this moment less historic? Anyone watching the speech live would be a fool to say so. Anyone watching the speech at home with tears pouring down their cheeks knows better. I watched the speech standing, in heels, in a restaurant that muted its elevator music to broadcast his words from the windows to the wall, whose patrons clapped in time with the audience, and shouted as he entered and left the stage. Who took pictures of the image projected on a white screen.

Yeah. Historic is an understatement.

I myself am pleasantly surprised that he did not invoke King like everyone else does. It would have appeared trite. It would have appeared political. I personally think it would have alienated more voters (and not just white ones) than it would have won.

And it would have fed into our [insert any community you like here] messianic tendencies.

Obama is not going to save this country.

And he never said he was.

"This election is not about me. It is about you."

King was not going to save this country. And I say that as someone who sees Dr. King not as what-had-happened-was but as historic. I am too young. I am too close to the textbooks and the History Channel. My ancestors may or may not have walked with King. They may have been too busy trying to survive. I don't know.

But it is dangerous--DANGEROUS--to begin to treat Obama as the change that we wish to see in this world and in this country.

WE need to be the change we wish to see.

And it is unfair to ask him to stand up on the national stage and embody a black community that only has its roots in the civil rights movement. He embodies a much more complicated history, one that is about blackness, and immigrant status, and working class and single mom-dom.

I wish he'd said certain things, yes. I wish he'd been slightly less centrist, sure.

But wish him to invoke Dr. King? No. Not that.

And about Palin:

This election is about to be more historic--and harder to win if you are a Democrat--than any election we have ever seen.

And whether Obama or McCain wins, it has the potential to tear us--the Left--apart in a way that we haven't seen since Reagan.

Democrats, we have an opportunity here. That's what this is. An opportunity to rise about trashy, spiteful and painful identity politics and character-smashing. We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves from the vicious sniping at HRC that led us into accusations of misogyny. Our anger at each other is nothing at this point. As Audre Lorde wrote, and I wish I could remember the quote before I run out of computer battery, but the gist of it was that our anger at each other is nothing compared to their hatred of us.

We need to upgrade ourselves. We need to step up our analysis. And we need to think fast because the Republicans are used to using underhanded tactics to get what they want. And they would like for us, the party of Lincoln, liberals and gay rights, to get caught in gender/race/class tangles.

The motto for the next 60 days is Think Hard.


Anonymous said...

what a wonderful piece.

Carmen D. said...

Great post. I agree with you 100% about the King reference...or lack thereof. But a Fannie Lou Hamer reference might have been nice and still unexpected.

ThummyB said...

Good commentary, as always. Be safe in Brazil.