March 20, 2008
Obama's rhetorical ability is among the most skilled ever. Indeed, his speech on forming a "more perfect union" was prophetic. It forces us to see and create a transformative agenda for uniting a divided
For Barack to clearly & unequivocally state that racism must be addressed not only by citizens but by the
Walking the tightrope of the political major party landscape is extremely challenging; which makes his speech all the more powerful. And by juxtaposing racial inequality with the struggles of White working-class and poor, Obama does an eloquent job of trying to show a divided nation is commonality.
Arguably, the most powerful message in the entire speech was not his words on racial unity, but his outright critique of corporate business practice. While it is not the first time he has put corporate business in the crosshairs, this was indeed is strongest message towards them. In fact calling out major corporate industry's employment practices was his boldest move, naming globalization and out-sourcing as the root of American losing jobs---not immigration or affirmative action. It is clear the most sought after vote in this election is that of the White male; and criticizing corporate capital puts the bull's eye squarely on that population. In an election where we are hearing how super-delegates will determine the Democratic nomination, where “electablility” is a critical factor, and the question of can the nominee turn "red states blue" seems to be the DNC's most pressing concern, Barack's critique will not put him in that electorate's good graces.
Barack's talk about multiracial coalitions, unity, commonality, addressing the division of race, reconciling the past, and putting people before profit sets forth a progressive agenda to heal
Questions still remain though. Some critical issues are:
Private vs. Public
-Barack said "separate but equal is NOT EQUAL," reiterating the assertion of Brown vs. Board of Education while stating that American schools are STILL racially segregated and unequal. Many of the elite Private schools at the elementary and secondary level---disregard on the collegiate moment for a moment--- involve systems of "legacy," elitism, privilege, and classism that pushes free-market societies to intense moral analysis.
The Global Consequences of our Domestic issues
-Complicated systems of race, class, and gender privileges have split apart the country and severely impacted policy. While Obama's speech outlined the great work we have to do in addressing our country’s racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic issues, how does that affect American foreign policy? How do the ways we perpetuate injustice (through discrimination & racism) affect how we deal with the world?
-While Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments may have been inflammatory and controversial, it points to a real foreign policy's issue; an issues that has been neglected by numbers of American Presidential cabinets post WWI---are we exploiting foreign countries, uplifting them, aiding, or augmenting their dependence on the "First World." What is our image to the rest of the world? And what are the real consequences of this image? While Senator Obama did not address specifics foreign policy measures in his speech, his "more perfect union" must think about healing the U.S.' relationship with sections of the global world. Because along with racism, sexism, and discrimination: imperialism has been one of
These remaining questions are not to criticize Obama for not addressing them, but to speak to how we have to analysis his agenda and ACTIVELY TAKE A PART IN IT. The greatness of Barack's speech is that it simply illuminates the complicated problems