Barack Obama: Campaign of Hope
Where does a bad attitude like that, multiplied by millions of similarly disaffected citizens, leave us?
There's a speech Barack Obama sometimes gives when he's campaigning. First he talks about all the things we need to do in the United States, but can't do because we're bogged down in Iraq. He goes on to ask how we got into this situation. Someone always yells "George Bush!" After a moment he goes on to say, no, it's not just George Bush, it's all the cynicism and apathy and low expectations surrounding today's politics. We're the ones who got ourselves into this mess.
And that's exactly right. As long as we expect our politicians to be crooks and ignoramuses, that's just what we're going to get. If we want leaders who have integrity and who regard public service as a sacred trust, then we're going to have to treat the political process with more respect and put much more thought and effort into it.
Before he got involved in politics, Barack Obama was a professor teaching constitutional law. His bestselling book has a chapter about the hope and promise of the Constitution. How cool is that? (OK, I'm a geek, but I find it very refreshing to discover a politician who genuinely understands the importance of the rule of law in shaping the development of a society.)
In our turbulent multicultural world, we need leaders who recognize that human diversity has many facets and dimensions. I'm not referring to Obama's race or color here, but to his experiences living in different parts of the world and interacting with people from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds. If any of our presidential candidates has the cross-cultural savvy to sort out the mess in the Middle East, it is Obama. If any of our presidential candidates is capable of seeing through the "autism awareness" propaganda and realizing that autistic citizens are human beings who deserve equal rights, it is Obama.
His campaign website includes group pages where supporters with various interests write about why they support his campaign. One such group is made up of parents with autistic children who seek to bring about positive changes in our society's attitudes toward neurological differences. On that page, a mother wrote:
Our fellow Americans with developmental disabilities are still the unseen and the unheard. The discomfort and unappreciation of their value, their gifts and their equal rights is a reality that must change. Recognition and response to participate and be part of this change with Senator Obama is critical for us - both in the most basic necessities of quality of life, healthcare, education, jobs and housing, but equally that we have a place in the America he sees as possible. That we all do matter and if you have a developmental disability you are just as much an American as all of us...
What a breath of fresh air.