It also became clear in my conversations with visitors just how much a significant portion of the African-American
community are investing in this Obama run. One Obama button seen for sale on the 16th Street Mall showed Martin Luther King Jr. saying “My dream is now reality,” though I can’t believe the legendary civil rights leader would have pinned all of his hopes and dreams for racial harmony on one candidate. Another button seen on a partygoer showed Obama and a giant fist, with the words “Obama said knock you out” (think the LL Cool J song). If Obama loses, how many will blame the message (or lack of details in it), and how many will let that sting sow seeds of greater divisiveness?
One night while riding the light rail, an Obama supporter stood in the middle of the train with a bullhorn, yelling random things to cheering response: “Cheney! Halliburton! KBR! Ted Haggard! Larry Craig! Slavery is over! Obama is here!” As others kvetched about John McCain, two young men wearing Obama T-shirts began fighting and calling each other the N-word. How ironic, I thought, considering the use of that slur is something that really needs to be changed in America.
I chatted with the passenger across from me, who wore an Obama button and a pendant of his parents’ picture, pre-Civil Rights era, on a dog-tag-style chain. “I want change,” he said. “We just need change! I’m voting for change! I don’t care what happens in any other country. I just care about what happens here. Only in America.” Words that could have come from any America Firster backing Ron Paul, but are clearly a trend among those who would just like to hear Obama’s current focus on domestic social-justice issues such as taxing the rich.
The problem is that globalization is about a lot more than economies. What happens abroad will continue to directly affect American families more than ever before. And as we were aided to our independence by the French so many years ago, we just can’t falter on moral clarity in our global responsibilities, as well. Would a President Obama have come to the aid of Rwanda, or would the isolationist tone that edged him past the foreign-policy-minded Hillary Clinton win out, winning the adulation of the masses on the left?
As Obama ascended his perch over the plebs Thursday night, before a crowd that endured an hours-long line to get in to see their exalted leader, he bellowed the change refrain and tried to paint John McCain as an ignorant elitist. The feel-good celebration and laundry list of promises — you’ll all get health care, get college paid for, socialist redistribution of wealth be damned (oh yeah, it was tax cuts for “95 percent of working families” — who draws the working-class lines?) — rallied the liberal base, but will have done little to entrance the moderates who, as polls show, got really nervous about Obama over the Russia-Georgia crisis.
It seems that Obama’s soaring rhetoric and preaching to the choir — a wasted opportunity for him in a spotlight week — could have just served to burn his party in order to create an epic.