I Also Have a Dream – Start Seeing Barack Obama’s Real Character
During Obama’s ascent to the presidency, I have heard people try and connect King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with Obama's success. I emphasize “try” because I believe that the idea behind that amazing speech and the ideas that led to the election of Obama are diametrically opposed. King’s dream was for people to see past the color of another’s skin and see the person’s character. I believe the exact opposite of this dream happened in this election. The reason that this is so difficult to see is because as Americans we are not accustomed to seeing an individual benefit from being black.
Obama didn’t win the election based on his character; people never looked past his color.
Many supporters voted for Obama simply because he was black and they wanted to see such a “historic moment” in their lifetime. Other supporters would not admit to voting for Obama solely because he was black, but instead just refused to honestly examine his negatives because they did not want the facts to confuse them. Either way, it was not King’s dream of looking past a person's color to their character.
In trying to get others to pay attention to Obama’s character before the election, I personally had many discussions with Obama supporters that followed this general script:
Me: How do you feel about Obama’s extremely pro-choice voting record?
Obama Supporter (race irrelevant): He’s not really pro-choice. No one wants abortions.
Me: Really? Because politicians don’t usually vote for something controversial like abortion multiple times unless they really believe in it. Given Obama’s numerous votes for abortion, it is clear he is strongly pro-choice.
Obama Supporter: Whatever. Being pro-life or pro-choice isn’t as big of a deal in this election anyway. I’m all about the economy this time.
Me: Oh. Ok. Sure. How about this then - given our 10 trillion dollar debt, the recent bailout, and current budget deficit, how do you think Obama will be able to pay for all his economic and social initiatives?
Obama Supporter: Um, well, hmm, not sure, BUT, won’t it be amazing that just 40 years after King was assassinated, that a black man could be president?! It will be so historic!! Once-in-a-lifetime event!!! When black children are told by their parents they can be president, it will actually be true now. Isn’t that wonderful?!!!!
Me: Actually I wanted to talk about his CHARACTER as shown through his voting record, not his COLOR and how important that is historically.
Obama Supporter: You don’t understand what I’m saying!!!!!
Me: Well, at least we can agree on that.
As a senior at Harvard University I took a course on Martin Luther King Jr. at the Harvard Divinity School. After taking that class and doing further research on King, I obviously believe he would be displeased with the way his words and ideas are being used to support Barack Obama.
Despite being a young, well-educated African American I was not ready to make the most liberal senator in Congress my president simply because it would be “historic”.