by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
February 5, 2008
ON THE BRINK OF HISTORY, YOUR PUSH IS NEEDED
BRADENTON, Fla., Feb. 5. 2008 -- I'm expecting a sea change tonight. I believe that for the first time in this nation's history we will once and forever banish racism as the deciding factor in the destiny of African-Americans, and indeed adopt diversity as our path to the future.
What a thrilling possibility! This newspaper has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama with unbridled enthusiasm in the Super Tuesday primaries, as it has in all of the primaries so far. We do it not because we believe Sen. Hillary Clinton is not an able and deserving candidate, but because in this time of international economic volatility, rapid social change, of the emergence of India and China as powerful new competitors in global markets, and perhaps most importantly the worldwide triumph of the Internet as a force in every human life, America speaks by its choices not only to itself but to the entire world when it says a black great-grandson of slaves, a grandson of Kenya, educated partly in Indonesia, and a brave, resourceful, highly intelligent. caring and proud American will lead this nation to another level of greatness.
The American people truly are the greatest people in the world because they alone have persevered in a faith that says through openness, freedom, democracy and law a people can rise above their myriad divisions, their ethnic identities, their individual religious heritages and their dependence on media-driven political cash machines to establish a new truth, the truth that America is a part of this great world we live in and a partner in its human progress.
In this context, while the selection of a woman who have a great salutory effect, the election of Sen. Barack Obama will again distinguish this country from the great mediocracy most democratic nations have to endure. It will define America as a place where the new and the different, the innovative and the marvelous can not just exist and succeed but can lead the world.
Here in Florida, political messages have been muted for the past year as the Democratic National Committee's credentials committee waits until August to take up the question of accepting the delegates won by Sens. Clinton and Obama in the state's Democratic primary. Being the biggest winner by far, Sen. Clinton, who initially opposed seating our state's delegation, now says she wants our - read her - delegates seated. Unfortunately, that kind of backroom maneuvering is a hallmark of the former Clinton Administration, and one more reason to put that part of our history behind us and write a new page for posterity.
Yet my dreams were troubled twice last night by silent, lasting images of Sen. Clinton, staring at me with sad, heartbroken eyes. They have been with me all day as I await with every American the outcome of the voting in 24 states for Democratic and Republican presidential candidates as well as a host of local issues. It is not enought to say, "I'm sorry," to a woman who has pledged her entire life to the unforgiving game of politics, and who has mastered its every detail with astonishing accuracy and complete aplomb.
She is so able, so willing and so accomplished that to deny her my vote and our support - well, she did get a vote from my wife - almost seems cruel. But we have destiny at our door, and it is the nation that seizes the moment and elevates itself in doing so that stands tallest on the global stage. In selecting Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee, and in electing him President of these United States, that is where will stand.
I often think of my childhood friend Dennis Gurrant when I look at the photo of Obama that sometimes appears on our front page. Like Obama, Dennis was tall and lean, and unlike him he was a phenomenon of nature on the football field, the basketball court and the track. In 1966, the year we graduated, he faced the future Olympic gold medalist at the Randalls Field Invitationals and beat Bob Beamon in the long jump. Everyone immediately understood his Olympic potential. But when it came time to pledge time and money to the cause of preparing him for the greatest event in sports, our nearly all-white community was not up to the task. The money didn't get raised. Dennis didn't get to go the Olympic trials. And in what seemed a few short years, in a car driven by a drunken white friend, he died.
The lesson of his life has always hounded me. I should have and could have done much more. He stood on the brink of greatness, and all I had to do was to add my little push. I will not make that mistake again, not on Super Tuesday, and not on Election Day. Here is my push, Barack; God bless you and keep you, and may He let you triumph for Dennis and for me.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chioef opf The American Reporter, which he founded with 30 other journalists ion April 10, 1995. He is based in Bradenton, Fla.