As we enter the final phase of this political season, we calculate what decisions and strategies would best serve the African American community. Six months from now, will we says “I wish we would have done this or that differently.” I don’t play checkers; I play chess—always thinking three or four moves ahead.
When a new president is sworn into office on the West Portico of the U.S. Capitol, he or she is the president. Period. Anyone who plays with the notion that the president is not the president is playing with un-American activities on some level. On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush became my president. Period. On the day that White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer announced “the liberation of the Iraqi people has begun,” I walked out of a pub in Vilnius, Lithuania, and some college kids walked up to my buddy Brad and me saying, “Bush bla bla, invade bla bla, America wrong bla bla.” Since the dollar was strong back then and so were we, I told them “Slow your roll, we can discuss it over a few pints on me but I can’t let you slam America and our president.” (Of course, their broke behinds jumped at free brew.)
A new president will be sworn in January and I hope Senator McCain or Senator Obama will face fair opposition from the losing side because ultimately we are all Americans. Bitter extremists from the losing side will dial up conspiracy rumors and untruths design to undermined the efforts of the new leadership—disagree on policy, spending and direction but consider the negative consequences of being ugly just to be ugly. As a moderate Democrat, I will give President McCain the same consideration I gave every president during my adult life. If Obama wins, will my Republican friends do the same?
Obama supporters should help him by gaining a little leverage with congressional Republicans. Congressional Republicans will vote with their party over 95% of the time—that is understood; but can we order up a few GOP members who will stand up in their conference meetings and say, “Let’s dial down the rhetoric and beat the Democrats on the issues—we should be above dirty tricks and innuendoes.”
Forget about party politics for a second; the average American thinks our current problems could have been avoided or reduced by better Washington deliberations and communication. At this late hour, African Americans voters could decide the fate of many GOP congressional candidates. To me, a Republican who dials down the rhetoric while voting his core conservative beliefs is more important than some Obama coattail-riding Democrats are. (hint, hint Macon, Georgia)