Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Character: Obama vs. Clinton
Character: Barack Obama and his decision not to attack Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
The people around you are whispering in your ear, attack, yet you hold fast to your ideals. This is what Barack Obama faced during his campaign for president of the United States. The Democratic Party in 2008 had two candidates running for the Democratic Party nomination. Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama were both viable candidates. Both Clinton and Obama faced tough choices on how they were going to run their campaign.
As an African- American man in America I thought about how Barack Obama would go about his campaign against Hilary Clinton. The one thing that came to mind was The Birth Of A Nation(1915) the D.W. Griffith film. It was Birth of a Nation that set the tone of America’s racial attitude toward blacks. Blacks were depicted as brutish, lazy, weak, violent and dangerous. The sad fact is that in America today there are still people clinging to old stereotypical portrayals of blacks.
Barack Obama was put in the position of a black man fighting against a white woman. Obama as a black man had to walk a thin line the way he engaged her during the election. If Obama was too tough on Clinton, he would be portrayed as a brutish black man attacking a helpless white woman. If Obama was not tough enough then he would take a chance of losing the election. At the same time as Obama had to be careful of,- Clinton going on the attack. The Clinton campaign was relentless in their attacks on Obama. The Clinton campaign did not have to worry about offending the psyche of a raciest country.
The Clinton campaign used all the imbedded racial stereotypes that America holds to discredit Barack Obama. The focus of the Clinton campaign was to separate America in two camps, one white, and one black. The problem that Clinton faced was that America moved on past some of the attitudes of the past. White Americans looked at the problems facing the country, and they made their choice based on what candidate had the best plan for America. The support that Clinton ended up with was that of un-educated white Americans. Hilary Clinton with the support of un-educated white American had about the same chance of winning the election as Jesse Jackson did with only the support of black Americans.
The Obama campaign stayed on point during the election, and Obama never gave in to attacking Clinton.
The character of Obama is what kept him above the sea of racial politics. It was his belief in America that made him ignore the whispers in his ear that wanted him to attack Clinton. The strategy of staying on the high ground and sticking to the issues that faced America is what pushed him passed Clinton in the democratic primary.
The circle was complete when Obama asked Clinton to be the Secretary Of State in his adminstation.Rivals at one point, now on the same team, Clinton and Obama have come a long way. The question is now what is it about Obama that would make him offer Clinton a job, and what compelled Clinton to accept. I think that during the campaign, and after the election, Clinton saw the same thing in Obama that I saw-character.
The election of Barack has helped America forget the racial stereotypes of the past. Now children of every color can strive to be President of the United States.
We must always remember the raciest past of America, so that we will be able to stop it from ever coming back.