Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Barack Obama--My President

We're on the eve of another election. This is a terribly important time for all of us in this country. I doubt that “the fate of this country will be decided on who is elected President.” That is hysterical or doomsday thinking. If I was a Pastor I probably couldn’t write what I am about to write—or shouldn’t. But I am going to cast my vote for President Obama.

There are many reasons for this. Wading through the ugliness of the last four years—I picked up one of the biographies of Jackie Robinson. You might remember that he was the first African-America to play for a major baseball team. But the road seemed impossible for this young man from Cairo, Georgia. He had to wade through the injustices of segregation.  He came up through the ranks of the black leagues—and Branch Rickey saw Robinson’s talent and helped him make it to the Dodgers. This seemed almost impossible. Teams and managers said they would refuse to play with a black man on the field. Crowds booed. Fellow team players were dubious. And when the team went on the road Robinson could not stay with the other players or eat is many restaurants. Yet he kept on. He played for a decade for the Brooklyn Dodgers and helped them win the World Series in 1955. And he changed history.

Another black man has changed history. Barack Obama has faced unbelievable odds. People keep whispering he is not one of us. That he is a Muslim. That he is retarded. That he is lazy and no leader. That he is gay. That he does not believe in God. That he was not born in this country. Pictures of the President as a monkey or Hitler or Stalin have cropped up many places.  None of these things are true.

My decision to vote for him is not mere sentimentality. I vote for him because he represents the finest part of the American dream. He grew up in a one-parent home, shuffled from the United States to Kenya and then to Hawaii. He only met his father one time. Most of his growing up he lived with his grandparents. He didn’t fit in most places. Lincoln said one time:”I shall work and I shall pray and perhaps my chance shall come.”

Obama refused to give up and was educated at Columbia and finally Harvard. He worked as a community organizer and then Congressmen and then President. He reminds me of Jackie Robinson. He just kept keeping on. His story is America at its best.

I vote for him because of his courage. He has done what no President in our history has done with health care. Knowing this was not politically savvy he has established the Affordable Health Care plan that will bring many of those 49.9 million without insurance into the circle. Like the beginning of Social Security—this plan is far from perfect. But we have to start somewhere. I vote for him because I hope to see this adventure in health care unfold.

I vote for him because of his stance on gay rights. He did not have to abolish “Don’t Ask...Don’t Tell” in the military. Neither did he have to say that he had come to believe in the rights of gay folk to marry. In supporting gay people he has taken enormous political risks—yet deep down I wonder if in his statements about gays he did not remember his own hard journey. I support a President who takes the “all” of the Constitution seriously.

I vote for him because he is a good model for us all. President Obama is a family man and it is obvious that he loves his wife and daughters. People of color in this country and all over the world see in this good man hope and promise for their lives. The dignity he has given black folk particularly is a great gift to the African Americans in this country. 

I vote for him because of his stand on immigration. He has made it possible for over a million children of illegal immigrants to find a home and citizenship in this country. This is the only life they know. They are here, as most of our ancestors did, to find a place to live and work and be safe. Barack Obama keeps faith with the immigrants in our country.

I will vote for Mr. Obama because he has ended the war with Iraq and will bring the troops in Afghanistan home. These two wars have just about bankrupted this country—his vision for peace in a complicated world I applaud.

I will vote for him because of his understanding of the role of government in our lives. The hurricane Sandy and its terrible aftermath is the best example I know of one of the purposes of government. Government is not some foreign power—the government is us at every level and there are some things that we must do together nationally that we can never accomplish alone. Need I add Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid? Of course I could mention tax cuts for the rich, global warming and many other issues. The list is too long. And the demands are many.

As we near the end of this race I remember that Jackie Robinson did wonderful things for baseball. I really believe, given a chance that Barack Obama’s second term will continue to be very good for our country. I have friends who will disagree with me. They believe if someone does not fix this economy soon we will go under. Many economists tell us that to move from where we were to where we want to be is slow progress. Americans are an impatient people and want a quick fix.  But no severe problems are ever made better overnight or in four years. Whoever wins this election will need us all to help, to shoulder the load and to use that old hackneyed phrase: to reach across the aisle.

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