Friday, September 05, 2008

How Obama explains his community organizing

Question: How is community organizing relevant for the presidency?

This is very curious. They haven't talked about the fact that I was a civil rights lawyer, or taught constitutional law, my work in the state legislature, or US Senate, they focused on this 3 years where I worked as a community organizer, right out of college. As if I'm making the leap from 2-3 years out of college to the presidency.

I would argue that doing work in the community, trying to create jobs, rejuvenate the communities that have fallen on hard times, bringing people together, set up job training programs in areas that have been hard hit where the steel plants have closed—that's relevant only in understanding where I'm coming from, who I believe in, who I'm fighting for and why I'm in this race.

The question I have for them is: Why would that kind of work be ridiculous?

Who are they fighting for?

What are they advocating for?

Do they think that the lives of those folks struggling each and every day, that working with them to try and improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the presidency?

I think that is part of the problem, that they are out of touch and don't get it because they haven't spent much time working on behalf of those folks.


SUSAN said...

Feeling rather jaded today. I appreciate your pointing out the half-truths of the Republicans and also the Democrat perspective. Trouble is the Republican are pointing out half-truths by the Democrats, too. Also, some disgruntled Hilary fans are speaking not very nicely about the Democrats. What's a body to do? lol
Me thinks I need a breath of fresh air!


julieunplugged said...

I get it. I understand being jaded. I have gone through my own cynicism too even in this election. I have spoken with both disgruntled Hillary fans and those who have turned the corner for Barack. I have grown to admire and relate to Hillary much more now than when she was running in the spring.

As I said to my mom when she found herself questioning everything again: one of these men will be president. So the real question has to do with their platforms - what they intend to do, what the trajectory of their ideas is, what they imagine makes America a better country. Their platforms are quite different. They are both qualified to be president. In the end, it comes down to whether or not we reward the Republicans with four more years to fix what they've broken based on the ideals they continue to espouse, or if we think it is time to try something else and give the Dems a chance to fix what they see as broken. In a way, that's about as stark as it gets. And right now, about half the country feels that going with the Reps. despite the conditions we're in, feels more familiar, safer, and less "personally expensive" (taxes) than risking the Democrats. The other half of the country is ready to try something else, even if it costs them something.

One thing that has consistently impressed me with the Obam campaign is the unflappable nature of it. He has said from the start that he is not going to engage in personal attack politics but stick to the issues. Even in the primaries, even in this GE, he has stayed true to that vision. He builds what he is about from the grassroots and is sometimes almost boring in how little he seems moved by the political climate of the week. Meanwhile, he builds his team state by state, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood.

For my part, I can't imagine saying essentially to Bush: You screwed up, but we aren't that upset about it.... so here are four more years for your party.

Maria said...

Personally, I think Obama's 3 years on the South side of Chicago is perhaps his MOST relevant experience for being president. I find it hard to trust someone who would belittle that work.

rmkton said...

Personally I find it a little insulting that the Republicans keep hounding on the issue of Obama's qualifications. What does that say about the folks who voted for him? are we morons? I guess they think so.

I would not have suggested to supporters of Hillary that there candidate was in some way not qualified. For Republicans to suggest the same to Obama supporters really says to me "you are not smart enough to know how to pick someone for president." I have a problem with that....

Jon said...

Good post, Julie.

I've been trying to understand how the Republicans are even close in this election. Historically speaking, if the incumbent president is unpopular, if the economy is in trouble, if the country is in an unpopular war--then that party is usually swept out of office and the other side given a shot at running things.

So again, how is it that McCain is polling so well? I may be wrong, but I think it is racism. People don't want to vote a black man president of the US.

"Just from what little I've seen of her and Mister Obama, Senator Obama, they're a member of an elitist class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican congressman from Georgia, said. (This from the same congressman who sponsored a bill to post the Ten Commandments in the House and Senate chambers but who, when asked to name them, could only name three. ""Um, don't murder, don't lie, don't steal. I can't name them."

Even if Congressman Westmoreland says he wasn't aware that the word "uppity" has overt racist overtones, his ignorance is even the more appalling. He should know. "Uppity negro" is "... a black person who has been reprimanded or persecuted for voicing his dissatisfaction with or rejection of the sub-standard treatment of himself or other black people" (quoted from The Hilltop Online). Meaning that a black person who challenged the status quo was getting above his station.

The Urban Dictionary defines "uppity negro" as 1)"a fearless black person who by social definition is "not in their place”
and 2) a Black person who is committed to reversing the crimes of self-refusal, self-denial, and self-hatred that are endemic to the Black community and detrimental to the Black psyche.

Westmoreland, knowingly or not, was reaching down into the sematic under layer of his community to pull out a phrase that acts like a warning to black people. "If I call you "uppity," watch out, cause you know what's coming next--a beating, a rape, or worse."

Remember in "The Confessions of Nat Turner," the fictional biography of the leader of a slave revolt, when Nat was sold off and was in the back of the wagon they came to a crossroads. The two white men couldn't read. Nat made the mistake of telling them what the signs pointed to. They call him "uppity" and give him a severe beating.

I hope I'm wrong. But there is no way the Republicans should even be close in this one. Not with how the way all the major indicators are pointing.