Sunday, September 28, 2008

What Do You Say To Republicans Who Ask What Has Barack Obama Accomplished?

Republicans love to ask that question. You know why? Because it immediately puts you on the defensive. A place that they like you to be.

Yesterday at the Fort Bend County Fair, I was trying to sell campaign buttons and T-shirts, and an old guy, well, a guy about my age, came up and started a harangue on Obama. “I can’t believe you are voting for him! Why are you voting for him,” he sputtered.

While I suspected that he was asking why I, an older white man, was voting for a man of mixed parentage, I tend to stay away from playing the race card.

Then he played the “defend yourself”card and asked me what had Barack Obama done in his political career that made me most proud of him.

Now I could have bitten in and mentioned the legislation he put through in his two terms as Illinois State Senator. Like the way Obama supported, in a bi-partisan way, then Governor George Ryan’s initiative to block the predatory lending practices way back in 2001. Practices that have led up to our current financial crisis.

Or like how he sponsored and led the bipartisan passage of Illinois’ Racial Profiling law, a law that required Illinois law enforcement to record the race of people that they detain in their reports, as well as legislation that required video taping of all homicide interrogations – the first law of its kind ever passed in the nation.

Or I could have defended myself by citing Barack Obama’s US Senate accomplishments like the Obama-Lugar Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, a bill that requires full disclosure of all entities and organizations receiving Federal funds.

But I chose not to.

Instead, this is how I answered him: I became most proud of Barack Obama the day he announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Here was a man, a black man in America, who was audacious enough to think that Democratic Americans would nominate him as their candidate, and then a majority of Americans of all parties would elect a bi-racial man their 44th president.

I was proud of him because he had the wisdom and judgment to see what I could not see. He saw that Americans – or a great many of them anyway - have entered the “post racial era.” It took me some time to get on board because I doubted my fellow Americans were ready for this.

But no longer.

This is how I answered him. He didn’t like my answer because I was not placed on the defensive. In fact, instead of me being on the defensive, he now was.

And he quickly left so I could resume my task of collecting donations from the people who had crowded around trying to buy campaign buttons, bumper stickers and T-shirts.

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