by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Angel Fire, New Mexico
January 4, 2008
CHARTING A NEW COURSE FOR AMERICA
LAKE WORTH, Fla., Jan. 4, 2008 -- A black American politician looked a predominantly white gaggle of journalists straight in the lens eye, and defied conventional wisdom in a nation with a predominantly white electorate.
This respected local and regional political leader made national political analysts and pundits sit up and recognize that winds of change apparent in the world, were meandering through the cities, suburbs, and rural expanses of the United States of America.
A gracious New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton reflected on the black politician, and noted that the black candidate indeed "fought for civil rights and equality with an energy that forever changed the way American politics deals with matters of race... ."* Sen. Clinton added that the reaction of everyone who encountered the new breed of black political activist was that the candidate "always made a notable impression on everyone."
At a critical time in the history of a nation involved in a faraway war, with dwindling public war support, the Black politician could have pandered to stereotypical "minority" issues of crime, poverty, and education.
To be sure the importance of these issues viscerally and politically were a portion of the politician's being. But what raised eyebrows with nods of approval, were the campaign trips and small gatherings in which a broader, macro view of a nation's goals was expressed.
Taking no small amount of political risk, in one major address the African-American politician, perhaps emulating the best of a Marcus Garvey or Martin Luther King Jr., alluded to the Founding Fathers and said point blank:
"The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers - a great pity on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so."
There were lots of media reasons to marginalize the campaign, and to focus upon better-known candidates, but still one Florida NAACP chapter president considered the candidate "our Moses who opened the Red Sea for us."
The candidate's own assessment of the historic run for the Democratic Presidential nomination was that "My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which comes all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency."
Although his U.S.-rooted credentials are iron-clad, there is that added aspect of internationalism, and acceptance of diversity. Perhaps this shows the ability to bring to the debate and public service a recognition of life beyond the United States; it caused criticism by some, but garnered admiration and praise from many others.
Because of family realities growing up, the Black American was went overseas to live as a child. Eight years overseas and studies at a foreign grammar school resulted in a hint of extra dignity, a respect for foreigners, and an honest multi-culturalism that enriches reactions to the candidate.
One could go on and on, and of course, the candidate's place in history is secure, although final chapters will need more decades of perspective. Now is a good time to take a political breath.
Search the World Wide Web, read a few articles and speeches, and smile the knowing smile of thanks to the late Rep. Shirley Chisholm who was the first black woman elected to Congress; in 1972 she became the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sen. Barack Obama, if he chooses to make her his campaign role model, could not find a better one.
* 2005 memorial message upon the death of Rep. Shirley Chisholm.