Apparently the Republicans are getting all worked up about a black woman. Again. Getting their knickers in a knot, as we would say. And no, I am not talking about Oprah tackling their favourite pastime either – eating a Quarter Pounder from Mickey D’s. (By the way – who the hell was the bright spark at McDonald’s that thought Mickey D’s would be a sexy tagline?) Nope, and neither are they still pissed at Rosa Parks for taking “their” seat. Well, not that pissed anymore anyway. Just a little. No, they are getting ready to tackle a new black woman – Michelle Obama.
They are still pissed at her for saying that, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country”. All worked up that she wasn’t “really” proud earlier in her life. You know, she was just the run of the mill kind of proud of her country. Not “really” proud. Hum. Let’s visit this statement a bit, shall we?
So here she is. Black the last time I checked. And her husband is running to become the next President. Not because he is black, but because he is the best candidate according to some. Well, at last America is getting off the race issue. Or at least somewhat. According to polls, many Americans still believe that race will play a role in their decision on who they will vote for to become the American President. She must be “really” proud of the fact that her husband (or any black guy for that matter) can run for President on a non-race ticket and actually stand a chance of winning. That must “really” piss the Republicans off. But I would also be “really” proud for the first time as it is a first…
Or maybe she said, “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” (Different sources give me different quotes. That should not make them proud of their work…) Slightly different isn’t it though. Not a “really” in sight. One could have a problem with this now can’t we? Hum, maybe. Let’s have a closer look.
Michelle was born on 17 January 1964 – in Chicago. Lived there most of her life. 1964… The year after Kennedy got killed. She was born during the rule of LBJ. Not a time that reminds us of great hope does it? Okay – I’ll give you the moon landing. But she was only 5 and it was Kennedy’s idea anyway. And then came Nixon. Need I say more? And Ford and Carter followed. Again, not the good times now was it? Some would argue that Reagan brought hope. But sorry, he didn’t. Not universal in any case. He was a great leader for the Republicans. But he brought little hope to the world. Too many wars. Too many wrong decisions. Even if he was a good guy – he didn’t bring hope. And then Bush Sr. And another war. And no hope. Clinton brought some hope early on, but divided the country and got involved in too many “outside” activities. And then Bush Jr. More war and even less hope. Consistent during all these times were the lack of hope. Good Presidents and bad Presidents. But what they didn’t bring was hope. The one thing they didn’t have was this thing called hope. A future that the American people could see and believe in.
Oh, they all had their good times and their bad times. But not one single one of them painted a picture of an American tomorrow. They told Americans of a better tomorrow. But not of an American tomorrow. Just a better tomorrow. And then they all went and sold out to some vested interest somewhere.
I mean think about it for a minute. The 40’s – a just war against a true global threat. And America played a key role in changing the shape of history on that one. The 50’s – big infrastructure expansion, “good” businesses shaping the US, the building of America and the hope of a future so clearly depicted in art, movies, literature etc. The 60’s – people and their right, civil rights and the people speaking out against the way they were ruled and taken to war. And cool music. Then the 70’s – one bad politician after the other and disco music. Really. The 80’s – corporate influence over government takes shape like never before and continues to grow each year. But it started in the 80’s. And, of course, 80’s music and big hair. The 90’s – empty promises and big smiles. But little substance and even worse music (as if that was possible). And the new millennium… need I say more.
And then here he is. Her husband. Talking about tomorrow. And the future of America. And the hope of change. A better world. A better America. An America that we know and love. That stands for something good. Where America is run by Americans. The people. Not the vested interests. And she sees this and feels proud of her country for the first time because there is hope. She didn’t say that she didn’t believe in her country before. Or that she didn’t love her country before. Just that this is the first time she is proud of her country. Maybe even “really” proud of her country. Because the leaders who represent and embody what America stands for haven’t been that hopeful since that shot ended the dream in 1963. For the first time the shadow is pulling back and America is facing itself again. Facing what it is to be American. And all the good that comes with it.
It’s not a passport. It isn’t an accent. It is “state of being”. To fight the good fight. Do the right thing. To celebrate freedom. To let people run the country. Let the people govern. Where hard working Americans can make the American Dream come true. Where the poor doesn’t get poorer and the rich doesn’t get richer just because they are rich or because they are poor. Or because of where they were born or the color of their skin or their sexual preferences or their gender or their…. Well, you get the picture. Where there isn’t a sense of entitlement because you were born into it. Where Americans can show the world once again that being good, believing in freedom, working hard, standing together and staying true are the key ingredients that make America great. And what makes American Presidents great. Something to be proud of.
I am sure she had moment when she was proud. Olympic success, moon landing, civil right etc. But those are moments. Not Presidents. America has fallen to far behind. Not behind other countries. But behind itself. China is catching up on the economic side. Human rights are seen as an European thing now. Protection mentality and exclusion are seen as the American way. America hasn’t forgotten what it is all about. Hasn’t forgotten what their leadership means. It just hasn’t always measured up to its own high standards. American Presidents haven’t really measured up against what is expected from a truly great American President.
Yes, America remains better than almost every single country out there in our little globe. But just being better than others have never been the American way. Being better isn’t the American way. The American way is being American. And everything it stands for. Measuring itself against the American ideals. Looking back and making judgements against what the Founding Father fought for. Looking in the mirror and saying, “Not good enough. Let’s go for it again tomorrow. And let’s make it work this time”. America defines America. Not others. And that has been the failure. The loss of hope. America somehow started measuring itself against others. Instead of defining itself. And that is maybe why Michelle is “proud” today. Because she sees the hope of America being America – and everything that goes with that.
Oh, CNN also told me that people will look at the spouses of the candidates when they make their decisions. Not what they stand for, but what it says about the candidates and their choices. Here is how I see it. (Just in case you asked for my opinion.)
What does Cindy tell me about the decision making of McCain? It tells me that he will flip-flop. Had a wife and then saw something else he liked. And dropped the first one. A President that will make decisions and change it just as quickly if it fits better. McFlop will flip any policy if it means more to gain I guess. In this case it was a net gain of about $100 million.
And what does it tell me about Obama? That he will stay with is choice. Even if they don’t see eye to eye on everything. And even if she says things he might not agree with. He loves them for who they are – warts and all. A President that will stick with you even if you make stupid mistakes and do stupid things. Like go into a stupid war or something.
Of course it also tells me that one picked a partner who are encouraged to think for themselves and speak out. No matter what the consequences. Speak out. Speak up. Don’t mince your words. It is the American way. Celebrating differences. Freedom of expression. And being open, direct and honest. Put your cards on the table. At least we know who she is. A bit like Eleanor Roosevelt. Speaking up on civil rights. Not just nice empty words and a pretty face. That did not make her popular with everyone now did it? But we’ll remember her and what she actually did instead of just talk about.
The other one? Not sure what she stands for. Hardly hear her speak. At least on anything substantive. Except to tell us how much she admires and agrees with Johnny M. But we know she shops at Oscar de la Renta. And that she looks “hot”. It tells me that we won’t have much to talk about if we ever meet. (Unlikely! Especially after this piece.) Because she will agree with me. And things would be all good. And she will tell me how she fights the bad stuff in a good way. Poverty and all the things the “little people” suffer from. Sorry. Seen that before.
No thanks. Give me the girl and guy who tell me things aren’t as fine as what everyone is trying to tell me. That we might just have to put a bit of effort into this. That everyone is accountable. That is America’s future is in the hands of each and every American. That it will take some effort, that it will mean some difficult choices, and everyone will have to pull their weight. But that America is worth a shot. That it is worth fighting for the American Dream and an American future defined by the American people. All of them.
Give me Michelle Obama anytime. Because at least she knows why she is proud. That it isn’t an empty word or a little flag you hang on your jacket. That it is hard work. And straight talking. It might be Kool-Aid. But it tastes just damn fine.
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