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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Opinion: The Final Nail in the Clinton Campaign

It's over.

I know there are ten primaries left (12 if Florida & Michigan revote), but Barack Obama this morning drove the final nail into the coffin of the Clinton campaign. Responding to endless media raving about controversial statements by his former pastor as well as the general racial overtones of the Democratic nominating contest, Barack Obama pulled the biggest political turnabout of the season: He told America the truth.

This wasn't the capitulation the Clinton campaign was hoping for. A capitulation by Obama at this stage would have handed the nomination to Clinton. Instead Obama stood up in Philadelphia and explained in words everyone could understand what it is like to be black in America. He then went on to talk about the similarities to being white and not part of the privileged elite in America, all the while acknowledging our differences.

For today, Barack Obama was not a candidate for president; he was the leader we've all suspected he could be. He laid out for America the need to see our differences for what they are, and then to look beyond them and see our common goals and aspirations. He challenged America to do unto others as we would have done to and for ourselves. He challenged this immature and needy social society to grow up just a little bit and take on the responsibilities of citizenship that go hand-in-hand with our rights.

He also displayed the kind of integrity and honesty it takes to be an effective leader. He discussed the statements of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright and repudiated them as divisive, while challenging us to understand where such thoughts and feelings come from. He also shared in general terms instances where his Caucasian grandmother had made racially insensitive comments that made him "cringe", and contrasted that with the fact that his grandmother loves him like no other. The message encompassed the imperfection of the human spirit, the hope and strength it takes to make a difference in the world, and offered himself as a leader who could help us break down the barriers between us all.

Today, Barack Obama showed that he is the type of leader who can and will help us overcome these barriers. After generations of politicians who have used these natural human tendencies to play up racial barriers and play us off one against another, we have in our midst a leader who wants to break down barricades so that our society may build upon the strength of each of its parts and catalyze into something greater than what we currently are.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain has the ability or the desire to lead us in this new direction. Their politics is built on fear and divisiveness. Their politics is built on letting us all fight each other rather than fighting for the common good. If we want to continue to be a great nation, and in the long, if we want to continue to be, we need to change our compass away from the racially divisive discourse of the past and remember that we’re all on the same boat here.

Barack Obama understands that. Among many other reasons, it’s one that he should be our next president.

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