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“Yes We Can”

When I met that’s me three years ago, he was an English major at the university. Now he is teaching English at the junior high school level. Unlike most of my Moroccan friends, that’s me has been following the American presidential campaign with interest, because he feels that if Barack Obama were to win the presidency, it would represent a major change in the American mentality. We were discussing what exactly inspires him about Obama, and I asked him if he would write up his thoughts for this blog.

As a Moroccan teacher, when I watch Barack Obama’s speeches and try to analyze what messages he wants to convey, I come to the conclusion that of all the candidates running for presidency, he is unique. Being black is an important quality that he knows how to make work for him instead of against him, as shown in his “Yes We Can” slogan. Throughout history, African-Americans have suffered from racism and its effects. Clearly the condition of blacks is much better than it once was, but they are still being treated as second-class citizens, and most of the good jobs go to whites. Obama stands for real democracy in America, and if he wins the presidency, I think it will be a great change in the country. Simply by being who he is, Obama is a symbol of change.

There is something I can’t understand in the language of Obama’s most serious challenger, Hillary Clinton. She talks about her so-called experience, but I laugh when I hear people taking that for granted. Even the media have noticed that her experience is less than it seems. When the Bush administration made the fatal decision to invade Iraq and get rid of Saddam, Obama opposed that dangerous step, and said so publicly. Unlike him, Hillary supported the invasion based on the idea that all Americans should fight terrorism. If that is what Hillary means by experience, how can we take her seriously? If she were really an experienced leader, she would have realized that the Iraqi war would be one of the worst mistakes in American history. It’s true that Obama is much younger than Hillary, but experience is not only a matter of age.

I think that Obama realizes that it isn’t easy to run for president, and that even if he does win, it won’t be possible for him to change everything overnight. Some people say that for either candidate to win would be a huge step forward for America. Hillary would be the first woman president, and Obama would be the first black man to lead the global policeman, the most powerful nation in the world, which has been a dream for all black people. Yet if we go back a couple of centuries, we will discover that the situation of women was never as tragic as that of African-Americans, who were treated as animals or worse. It wasn’t until the civil rights era, and the movement led by Martin Luther King, that black people won most of their rights. For this, Dr. King was assassinated! It reminds me of Jesus Christ, whom Christians say was a savior who sacrificed his life so that humanity could live in peace. Dr. King said, “I have a dream,” but he died before seeing his dream accomplished. It is accomplished now, so if Martin Luther King could call for change and succeed, why can’t Obama do the same?

In my opinion, it is high time for Americans to realize that democracy is more than a slogan. It isn’t only a word we hear in the media or in speeches. Real democracy means offering all people the opportunity to give voice to their thoughts, regardless of their color or race.


Comment from Philip Calderon
Time: March 3, 2008, 11:34

I agree with your Morrocan friend that Obama will change American thinking.

I know he has already changed my thinking or, better still, my way of viewing America.

You see I have always been proud of being an American but, at the same time, I have felt like an outsider.

Maybe it had something to do with belonging to a group of people that are for the most part out in the periphery. Not seeing influential people with my face reflected back at me and not feeling wanted probably had a lot to do with the way I felt. I am not going to go into the reasons why but this feeling of not being a member of the larger group is not unique to me.

Now I feel like I belong. Obama didn’t really change me. It was seeing the acceptance of Obama by so many mainstream Americans. How could I not feel like I belong in a country so accepting of someone with my face.

I am so proud of my country right now. Prouder than I have ever been because now I can say I am American and believe I am wanted.


Comment from ThomThom
Time: March 3, 2008, 13:07

I support Obama and voted for him in the DC primary. And I also opposed the Invasion of Iraq because I always considered Saddam Hussein a contained pipsqueak.

However, like Hillary Clinton, I would have voted for the Iraq War Authority Resolution on the basis that you don’t tie the hands of a president while he’s negotiating with a tyrant. Also, in October 2002, most people were willing to give Bush the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn’t act irresponsibly with the authority. The latter part was a mistake that couldn’t be predicted at the time. I think it’s unfair to blame Clinton for Bush’s unpredictable irrersponsibility.

Comment from Lily
Time: March 3, 2008, 13:14

While I agree that Barack Obama is the best and most transformational candidate, I take issue with the notion that “if we go back a couple of centuries, we will discover that the situation of women was never as tragic as that of African-Americans, who were treated as animals or worse.” I find attempts to create such a hierarchy of oppression inadequate at best. Yes, African Americans were legally property, like animals, for hundreds of years. Women, however, gave up their legal status as individuals by marrying, which was necessary for economic survival. While slave women could be legally raped by their masters based on their racial-slave status until 1865, it was legal for men to rape their wives (black or white) in every state in the US until 1976. Lacking basic control over one’s own body seems like a “tragic” situation to me. We need to stop trying to compare who has been more hurt by discrimination, and get to work on fixing it.

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