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October 24, 2008

Beyond The Racial Divide

Derek Shackelford

Well, it is almost upon us. Everything that has been said and conjured up will come to a screeching halt on November 4th. That is when the real politics will begin.


I must admit that as much as I would like to display unbridled enthusiasm, it is a rather cumbersome task. Why, one may ask? Because of the conjecture and tone of the various campaigns has been disheartening.


It is certainly true that in a democracy there should be a free exchange of ideas. It is this which makes for the great debate to determine which ideas are best. Not everyone will agree and this leads to a healthy society.


It is the personal choice of the electorate who can exercise their right to vote for a particular candidate who best represents this perspective. The difficulty that one finds today is not so much the free exchange of ideas, but a winner-takes-all-mentality-at-any-cost mindset. It does not matter what is said or even what is done, as long as at the end of the day, someone is still standing.


This presidential election will put a new face in the White House come January. It will either be a Democrat or a Republican. One side will have a sense of euphoric accomplishments and the other will feel debilitating disappointment.


The difficulty for the next president is the capacity to weave together the people who may have not gotten what they wanted. This is where my level of optimism diminishes.  Bridges that have been broken will have to be rebuilt. Bridges will have to be built for those who need to cross but never thought about going in this particular way.


Bringing a divided nation together is a daunting task. This divided nation did not start during this election cycle. It has been heading this way for some time. When we assess our political landscape, we never seem to debate ideas or ideology but rather who or what is not right.


This presidential election seems to have evolved into what the other candidate will not do, not what one will do or can do. Each party seems to revolve around the mantle that the other’s candidate is more dangerous than ours.


To make remarks that “one has been palling around with terrorist” is a serious charge. This is not simply a knock on the Republican side, although they have displayed the marks of fear campaigning. The Democrats have had their moments, also; it has just been more subtle. There is plenty of blame to go around during this campaign season.


As a part of the electorate, when are we going to expect that those who request our vote do not attempt to scare us into voting for them? The question before us in this election is: Are we going to vote our hopes or our fears. This is something we should all do with careful deliberation.


The subject of race has always been front and center in this campaign. Whether we have chosen to acknowledge it or not is another story.


Recently, talk show host Rush Limbaugh had the audacity to suggest that Gen. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama was solely predicated on race. Mr. Limbaugh seemed to suggest that General Powell could not articulate a rational argument based on his intellect, but rather solely Senator Obama and he are of the same race. If this is the case, how many will vote against Senator Obama since he is of a different shade?


When Henry Kissinger endorsed John McCain was it because of his race? The reality on the table is that some will vote for Senator Obama because he is black and some will vote for Senator McCain because he is white.


The notion that because one can articulate an argument for Senator Obama on the merits does not conjecture up a narrow minded view of just simply race.


We might as well cut to the chase and acknowledge that for some there are a different set of rules. When Mr. Limbaugh makes an incoherent comment, someone must check him and remind him that ignorance still comes in all colors. At least we know where Mr. Limbaugh stands.


According to what standard does the suggestion that Senator Obama is not qualified to be president come? According to previous standards, he is more than qualified. Just look at some of the previous men who have held the office.


The truth – and the sad part in the equation – is that in in this year of 2008, some still have to jump higher, run faster and prove themselves more in a society which proclaims to be beyond race.


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