You know that feeling you get inside the moment that you realize you’ve been played for a sucka? It could be the lie your daughter told you to get out of an ass whooping. It could be finding out that the number in his cell phone, the one that shows up repeatedly and at all hours of the day and night, really isn’t someone from his job, but his lover. It could be the realization that between your scale, which tells you that weigh 200 pounds, and your mirror, which tells a very different a story, something ain’t right. Or it could be finding out that the person you put your trust in, perhaps a candidate for president, is just as out of touch as his opponent.
Well the good news, if there is any, about last night’s get together between presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, is that miraculously, the word maverick didn’t come up once. There is a God.
The bad news, for me at least, is that reality final sank in as I listened to both candidates talk directly to and around the American people.
These days in some circles, it’s downright detrimental to your physical health to say anything negative regarding Obama’s candidacy, hence my decision to do it from the privacy of my home.
For the record, I, unlike others who only recently jumped aboard the Obama bandwagon after he trounced his Democratic opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primaries, have been supporting this man pretty much from the beginning. Sure, I’ve had my issues throughout his campaign and we haven’t agreed on everything, but I’ve been a faithful supporter of Obama’s. This is why I feel I have every right to hold him accountable.
During last night’s get together, as in the get togethers of the past, Obama made mention of his upbringing. An upbringing that included being raised by his grandparents and his mother at one point having to use Food Stamps to feed their family. Basically, Obama was painting the picture of poverty. That he managed to rise up in spite of the financial difficulties his single mother faced and attend the best universities this country had to offer, which eventually catapulted him to where he is today.
But here’s what I do know. I know that I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the fact that this country gave me opportunity. I came from very modest means. I had a single mom and my grandparents raised me and it was because of the help of scholarships and my grandmother scrimping on things that she might have wanted to purchase and my mom, at one point, getting food stamps in order for us to put food on the table.
Despite all that, I was able to go to the best schools on earth and I was able to succeed in a way that I could not have succeeded anywhere else in this country.
The same is true for Michelle and I’m sure the same is true for a lot of you.
What I am having trouble with is understanding how a man who came from such a modest background, can continue to participate in these discussions and not once mention the 37 million people living in the same poverty he came out of.
And before Obama’s hit squad of supporters launch on the attack…stand the [insert expletive here] down.
I am an Obama supporter and I have the right to question my candidate of choice on issues that I find to be relevant to me. That’s our problem now, we’re so caught up in the moment that we refuse to question anything and accept everything from the candidates.
If you think for one moment that the only people who matter in this election are middle class voters, then to take a phrase from McCain, you my friend, are sadly mistaken.
Imagine if we put McCain and Obama on the street, in the hood, face to face with those who have already lost their homes or never owned one to begin with? What if we forced the candidates to live off of the same amount of money many of our seniors contend with for a month? What would happen, if instead of some Ivy League university, the candidates debated each other in the gym of [insert your local project’s name here] in front of an audience of laid off or unemployed registered voters living on fixed incomes? What if instead of touring pre-selected suburbs, the candidates walked the streets of Skid Row and we replaced their gourmet lunches with lobbyists with lunch from one of the dozens of homeless shelters to be eaten in the company of the men and women who live there?
Would there then be mention of the 37 million (soon to be twice that at the rate the economy is going) American’s living in poverty? Would the candidates then dazzle us with their plans on how they are going to decrease the number of people in this country living in poverty and upgrade their class status to the middle?
There’s a reason why presidential debates do not take place in the hardest hit economic communities. There’s also a reason why the people who are handpicked to be in the room for these debates are chosen. Because if you take the candidates off of their scripts, you’ll find that not only don’t they have any real answers when it comes to addressing the issue of poverty, but that it’s not even on their radar.
Now I know that the candidates can’t address every single issue. But poverty isn’t just some issue, it’s the issue and it says a lot if the candidates don’t find the lives of 37 million worthy of discussion during their now weekly get togethers.
It says even more that the absence of any discussion of poverty between the candidates hasn’t been made into a national issue by the mainstream media—when these same media outlet’s pundits can debate for hours on the end the body language of the candidates, the fact that their wives didn’t shake hands, and who looked who in the eye. When all I have to say to that is who gives a [insert expletive here]?
If the candidates can’t address poverty in their stump speeches and while they are out there trying to get votes, they’re not going to address it once they are in the White House. Now is the time to hold them accountable and get them on the record.
We’ve only got a few weeks left before we make one of the most important decisions of our lives. The way I see it, as voters, we are not only responsible for our vote, but we’re also responsible for representing the interests of those we care about. For me, that would include those who cannot vote because of their age or parole status and those who won’t vote because they don’t feel like their vote matters.
It’s because of this that I will continue to bring up the issue of poverty and challenge Obama to address it. You have to do more than open up campaign headquarters in the hood, you have to also address the issues of the hood.
If we can find time to address how to make life better for those living in Russia and the Middle East, then we can damn sure address how to improve life for those living in poverty right here in America’s backyard.