Today, we have an African-American nominee for one of the two major political parties, running for the President of the United States. This is truly an historic occasion.
One does not have to look far back in to history, to see how far we have come. The abolitionists of only 140 years or so ago regarded it as a “sacred cause” to abolish slavery here in the United States.
Let us take a lesson from this page of history. When elected to his second six year term as Senator of Massachusetts in 1857, Charles Sumner saw the vote as, “a sign, that the people of Massachusetts, forgetting ancient party hates, have come together in support of a sacred cause, compared with which the fate of any public servant is of small account.”
Today, the cause is more than the fact that an African-American could possibly be the next President, but is about what our potential, as a country, can be. Our new “sacred cause” is the hope of the world. People can make a difference. People matter, no matter who or what they are.
Do we artificially prolong the United States’ power status in this period of globalization, and encourage chauvinistic, even racist, attitudes? Do we need to create our own version of the ancient Roman formula of “bread and circuses?” Or can we come together as Americans in support of each other, in support of the greater causes?
Let us define our mission in moral terms. James Madison warned of the tendency of government toward the “vice” of faction, toward “instability, injustice, and confusion.” This is the politics of vested interests. It is what we have come to expect in the US; we focus on the concerns that most often are already well enmeshed in governmental institutions. It is what we know and except. But now, all of a sudden, there seems to be hope for a change. A change that focuses on concerns that have either been excluded from the agenda or sufficiently discouraged.
When I look at Barak Obama, and believe me I’ve seen plenty in the past year, I have come to see someone blessed with the mind of a Jefferson, the steadfastness of a Lincoln, the calmness of an Eisenhower, and the grace of John F. Kennedy.
Think about it: is this the type of man who can grasp the real needs, wants, and higher aspirations of the American people? And make the huge fragmented and polarized system of government serve those needs and aspirations, not just for the few, but for all?