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“Within This America”

May 10, 2008

Leon Walker is a TNTalk! contributing writer. You can look for his columns at least every Saturday “write here on TNTalk!” To find out more about Leon, check out our writers page.

We are in the midst of observing something incred- ibly thrilling and of mammoth historic significance in this country. I predict that future generations will someday reflect on the Presidential Campaign of Senator Barack Obama, as a secondary story and in truth, that is how it should be.

Several months ago I watched the movie “The Queen” starring Helen Mirren. In my efforts to mentally locate a basis for what I wanted to express in this writing, that film seems great example. In short, from my perspective it is in large part, a film about progress and change. But perhaps more importantly, it is about leadership failing to take the measure of, and to respond to the will of the people. It is a film about blinding myopia and rigid tradition which were the basis for crippled leadership. This column is also about the potential for people, citizens with deep seeded beliefs and dreams having an impact and creating real possibilities.

In spite of my optimism, clearly we cannot predict what further level of success Senator Obama will enjoy through the remainder of his campaign. What I have come to know is that is possible, “a very real possibility” that he may become the next President of the United States. That realization alone, speaks volumes about this country, its citizens and the reality of the American Dream.

As a child I would sometimes rush through the wonderful birthday meal my mother prepared, only focusing on and anticipating the birthday cake that awaited me. I completely failed to appreciate that two separate events were contained in that year’s celebration. As we continue to go about our work on behalf of our candidate, we should be thoroughly enjoying the “fact” that through this campaign to date, we have already orchestrated what is quite possibly the most significant event in this nation’s recent political history. I hope that Americans never lose sight of or fail to fully appreciate the significance. Without question, securing the Democratic Party nomination and the White House are further critical goals to remain intently focused on. For many Americans, such a reality is only just becoming fathomable.

Before I continue and in an effort to ensure my past ideological failings are fully exposed, let me share some insight into myself. I am an African American, fifty four years old and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. I am college educated, a retired U. S. Naval Officer and former business professional. Politically, I am significantly right of Teddy Kennedy and perhaps even Senator Obama. So in truth, had you asked me one year ago if this level of success was remotely possible for this candidate, I would have responded that such a thing was both a pipe dream, as well as a dangerous proposition.

I no longer believe either of the foregoing, and also realize that I was pointedly wrong. I was wrong in my manner of thinking and wrong about America. I had mentally fallen victim to visions of the same depressing political paralysis that I had long despised.

Media pundits and long-time politicians repeatedly tell us that speeches, passion, dreams and movements are not the stuff that political leadership is made of. In my view, one has only to recall even from youthful historic studies that visions of those things are the basis for garnering support for forming and defending the fledgling United States of America. Not only have the long time political insiders seemingly forgotten this, but they also shamelessly and publicly state their disbelief in the importance and substance of it. I can only imagine that this is due in large part to deeply ingrained institutionalized concepts and political ideology that defy their clear vision of the very America that they have committed themselves to report on or the Americans they profess to represent.

Oh yes, career politicians want us to vote for them. They don’t think we really understand and appreciate their methods. Selling the hollow notion of experience, while locked in an egotistical coma, they fail to respond to our citizens living in most every variety of despair. The reality is, they don’t fully understand and appreciate that the citizens have lost faith in their ability to adequately examine the needs of the people, or their willingness to even fully grasp and carry out such basic concepts as the “will of the people”.

I am genuinely perplexed as to how on a grand scale that American politicians unknowingly wander lost into this unknown place of politics. This is a place as in the aforementioned movie, where “they simply don’t understand that they don’t understand”.

In the history of this generation there is a new story, not only that of traditional vitriolic words, callous tactics and seedy improprieties which litter the landscape of our political leadership. There is now the far more compelling and intriguing story of the “Children of Light”. These are many Americans who have loosed themselves from the grips of fear, myopia, silence and indifference. These citizens have become galvanized by a purposeful dream and belief in an “America within” with the power to change America throughout.

Many have risen to the challenge of working together for something wonderful in a unified quest for a new brand of leadership. I am heartened and energized by what I have seen and learned from my country. In spite of our many troubles and differences, many still believe there is within our grasp a magnificent reality of untainted leadership, equity and freedom to choose that should be thoroughly considered and fully appreciated. There is a visible movement of the many – “the we” – who are taking an active stance politically and simply refusing to eat “the devil’s hors d’ouvres”. The diverse and delicately blended “we” are galvanized in casting our votes and having a voice in making our choice for the next President of the United States. “We” are the ones that are joined in a common effort to overturn this nation’s inefficient and rustic political machine.

Certainly, there are many challenges and disagreements to face and battles to fight. But now, no matter how daunting the task, how dismal the outlook or how deeply painful the scars, I am convinced without question that “within this America” of today “there is something greater”.

L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker

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