Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Should Obama Say to the American Voter?

[Cross-posted at Daily Kos Diaries]

Fantasy sports' leagues allow the participants to pretend they are team owners, managers, and coaches. To a large degree, DKos and other blogging websites are fantasy political leagues where we get to pretend we are advisors, campaign managers and speech writers.

When Obama becomes the nominee he will have the convention podium from which to launch his campaign. What should he say to the American People? Below, is my contribution as a fantasy speechwriter to the nominee about what I think he should include in his acceptance speech. I'm not offering a polished speech nor a comprehensive speech that includes every item that I think he should cover. It is just my "first draft" suggestion aimed at those important controversial issues that I think should not be left out of his speech at the convention. Is Obama a Muslim? Will he be a leader of "a small minority" of Blacks? Is he patriotic? I think Obama needs to address these questions directly and boldly, and very personally.

Like a good political fantasy league, I'd like to see what others consider to be the necessary additions to what the "speechwriting team" has for what should be in Obama's convention speech. What do you think should be included?

Text of speech that I would write for Barack Obama:

Now, I'd like to speak directly to the American people about some of those issues that you may have heard about me through rumor or whispering campaigns on the internet.

Of course I invite you to read the two books I've written, but I want you to know that just because I've written two books about my life and my vision for America, that I am not an "egghead" elitist. I had help on those books from good editors and others. Yes, I graduated from college and law school, and I am proud of those accomplishments, but a college degree does not make a person elitist. America has realized the dream of higher education for more and more of our people, so it is how a person uses that degree and how it affects their relations with others that shows whether they have gotten the swollen head of elitism from their education. I think my work in community organizing and voter registration drives, as an attorney protecting workers and voters rights, as a representative in the Illinois State legislature, and as a United States Senator show very clearly that I have not forgotten what it means to grow up in our economically stratified society.

To put it another way, there is an inclusive elitism and an exclusive elitism. Merely by being in the United States Senate both John McCain and myself have becomes members of the elites. In fact, Senator McCain has been one of the elites for over 30 years both by virtue of being a senator and by marrying into the wealth of his current wife's family. So what is important when you vote for president is not to think that you are voting for one candidate who is elite and the other who is not, but to vote for the candidate who understands you and is in touch with your situation in life whatever it may be, as I do. I am inclusive and I want every American to enjoy and benefit from the same opportunities that I have had. I'm not the exclusive kind of elitist who claims to represent all the people but who hides his wife's tax returns and refuses to disclose them.

I was born in Hawaii and my parents separated when I was two years old. For a few years I lived with my single mom until she remarried and then we moved to Indonesia where my step-father was from for three years. At the age of ten I returned to Honolulu and was raised by my grandparents on my mom's side. After graduating high school I was fortunate enough to be able to move out to attend college, first at Occidental College then at Columbia University where I majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. If this makes me an elite in foreign affairs, then that is an elitism that I am proud of.

You may have heard the lie that when I lived in Indonesia with my step-father from the age of 7 to 10 that I was a Muslim. This falsehood is not only an insult to me, but this lie is an insult to Islam and indeed even to Christianity. As a child I was not forced to adopt any religion and I did not adopt any religion. I sometimes attended the mosque with my step-father, and so of course I learned more about the faith of Islam than most Americans do. So it is important that Americans know that Islam, just like Christianity, is a religion that says a person does not truly belong to the faith until he or she can make a declaration of faith as a mature person.

When I returned to Hawaii at age 10 I returned to the Christian culture of my grandparents and when I became a mature young adult capable of deciding for myself what faith I would follow I chose Christianity and the religion of Jesus Christ. Instead of making me anti-Christian, I believe that my early contacts with Islam not only gave me a greater appreciation and respect for the real Islam, but also the knowledge my faith in Christianity could be confirmed by experience and not just because it was the religion of my parents.

So, I'm not a Muslim, I am a Christian, but one thing that my childhood experience with Muslim's taught me is that Muslim's are very much just like us Christians. They have faith in God, they love their families and want to support them with their honest work, they want their children to have a safe world to live in, they want peace with their neighbors just like you and I do. It is very sad for me, having as I do direct knowledge and contact with relatives who are Muslims, to see how the faith of Islam is twisted and perverted by a very few extremists, and also to see how these very few Muslim extremists are played up by our own homegrown right-wing extremists as if they were the majority of Muslims. This we must change together. I ask all Americans to set aside your prejudices and whatever your religion or if you have no religion, to not be taken in by the anit-Muslim propaganda that you may hear. There are bad apples in Islam just as there are in every religion, but if we are to have peace in this world then we must recognize that the overwhelming majority of people of every faith are at heart human beings with the same dreams and love for their families and friends.

There is also a rumor going around that when I am elected I will be a leader for Black people but not for Whites. It has been said during this primary campaign that I will be a leader only for a small minority of Americans. It has been said that I don't' appeal to White voters. My primary victories from Iowa to Vermont to Oregon to Alaska show that there is no issue that this campaign is appealing to White voters.

So let's be clear, these statements come from people who have not resolved their own personal issues about race. Resolving the race issues in America is something that we must change together, and if my personal story of race can help bring about this change in America then I will be most humbled for that. Yes, I am an African American. My father was from Kenya and I was born in Hawaii. In the United States today, there are many people who still judge a book by the cover and the person by the color of their skin. So when people see me they often pigeon-hole me as African American by how I look. That kind of racial prejudice is something I grew up with and have had to deal with.

But I am also proud to be a European American. My mother from Kansas came from European ancestors and that too is part of my life and self identity. In my life, in my body, my blood and my bones, I am both, both African American and European American and I am not ashamed of either. I believe that this personal experience gives me something uniquely suited to the office of President of the United States that no other candidate has offered. I will not be a leader of a small minority but a leader for everyone of every ancestry because I know what it means to have a family in which the ancestral rivers from different continents flow.

And of course there are those extremists who have questioned my patriotism and charged that I am unpatriotic because I don't usually wear a flag lapel pin. It's pretty funny how most of the right-wing pundits who make this absurd charge against me aren't wearing flag pins themselves. Friends, just to be clear, I wear my patriotism in my heart, not on my sleeve or my lapel.

I love this country with all my heart, and I swear to defend the United States of America and our Constitution to the utmost. It is because I take patriotism seriously that I don't believe a flag pin is an obligatory part of what being a patriot is. My fellow Americans, don't be fooled by false patriotism. That is something we must change together.

The false patriot says the President must never be criticized and it is un-American to oppose the President's war. A true patriot, however, agrees with the words of our 26th President Teddy Roosevelt who said,
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic, but is morally treasonable to the American pubic."
When I am President, I will invite the criticism of the American people. I know that all people can't agree all the time, but I also know that I will need your guidance as well as your support. I will not be like our current President who never allows criticism and who doesn't even read the newspapers for fear of running into it.

In America, patriotism is not about following the person who shouts the loudest about loving country and saluting the flag, patriotism is following the steady and quite voice of conscience to uphold and defend the democratic principles held dear by a sovereign people.

It is false patriotism to start a war using deliberate exaggerations about fake threats to the United States. I will never do either, lie to you about fake threats nor start a war based on such false .

It is false patriotism to call someone an appeaser just because he would speak to or negotiate with the leaders of opposing nations as every other President has done. Even a person who doesn't have an education in international affairs knows you can't negotiate an end to hostile feelings between you and another if you don't speak with them.

It is false patriotism to claim to love American and the American people and then to leave a large part of a great American city like New Orleans to wreck and ruin, with many of its economically disadvantaged citizens wrongfully displaced from their homes and scattered out of state, and to leave it to rebuild itself without providing necessary federal aid and support.

It is false patriotism that supports unauthorized spying on American citizens.

It is false patriotism that supports torture and kidnapping in the name of national security. Torture doesn't work, and kidnapping in the name of rendition for the cause of national security doesn't bring us security. Immoral actions only bring us the reputation in the world of being immoral actors.

As president I will call false patriotism what it is, and I will ask you the American people to support true patriotism with the courage to stand up for honesty and integrity in the Oval office and for fair play and honest dealings for our international friends and foes alike.


[Please add comments for any ideas for additional issues such as environment, health care, economy, etc. ]

No comments: