I’ve written this before, but tears welled up in my eyes when Barack Obama stood on stage at the Democratic National Convention repeating the words “thank you” dozens of times during a minutes-long standing ovation. And I cried because of some unknown patriotism that still dwelled within – none of our European allies with a large black population has ever had a non-white president or prime minister.
However, once the primary season ended and the general campaign began, I had the idea that in the end, many cultural demons would have to be slayed for Obama to become president of the United States. He’d have to slay the generational racism of several working class families, which began because businesses used blacks as strike breakers in the early 20th Century.
I knew that the Jewish vote would also have to be convinced that a black man would stand up for them. Same is true of the elderly and Hispanics.
But I also knew that if the McCain campaign found itself on the losing end, the new GOP wouldn’t go out the same way Sen. Bob Dole did in 1996, with honor.
And the McCain campaign has definitely taken a turn for the nasty in recent days.
Shouts of “kill him” were recently heard at a GOP rally after Sarah Palin made an erroneous connection between Obama and a Chicago activist and teacher, who admittedly set off bombs at government facilities. Warm-ups for McCain and Palin are often heard emphasizing Obama’s middle name, Hussein, in attempts to paint the future president as a Muslim, which, if you ask me, seems to be an accepted bigotry for those on the right.
Then there’s John McCain calling Obama, “that one.” Now, maybe I’m reading into this a bit much, but when someone calls an equal, which is what the two candidates are, “that one,” it shows strong disdain. Add to that McCain’s racist past, and his refusal to correct any of his surrogates blatantly racist comments (one said “let them have their Tiger Woods”) and “that one” can be seen as one step away from “that boy.”
It’s going to get uglier. And the ugliness will come from one side. I’m just glad it’s not from mine.
In the end, I’m hopeful that an Obama presidency will strip away much of the remaining racism in our country and will give us greater hope for a more unified nation.