There are many reasons that I’m glad to not be a liberal Democrat. One of them is that I'm relatively free of the mindset which produces the dilemma in which many black female Democrats find themselves just now: race or gender--which trumps which when one is trying to decide who will be the President of the entire United States? Which one should be taken into consideration more when one is trying to decide who will protect the entire country from enemies foreign and domestic? And—best of all—how will my pride in being a woman be affected if I choose the black (male) candidate? And what about the reverse?
Countless times have my Democrat relatives and acquaintances referred to President Bush as “your president” when discussing him with me. On every such occasion, I always correct them: “No, he’s our president.” And unless one gives up U.S. citizenship, so it will be for a President Clinton 44, a President Obama or a President McCain.
And our president will have responsibilities to all American citizens, not just the black ones or the female ones or the veterans. Correspondingly, each individual voter's job is to pick the one who is estimated to be best able to discharge those responsibilities.
When I see Obama, I see a black man who can redefine what it means to be a minority in this country—a man whose very presence may actually encourage the black men I know to believe in their own futures and force those around them to do the same.I’ve heard variations of the foregoing several times since Obama’s candidacy began to pick up steam.
Our responsibility is to minimize in ourselves and in our children the narcissistic notion that because someone looks like us that their accomplishments reflect on us. Oh, sure, some of that is useful as a motivator--one which can exist alongside several others, most of them being of an individual rather than affiliated nature. But we’re not talking about becoming a lawyer or a doctor; we’re not even talking about becoming Secretary of State or a Supreme Court Justice.
We’re talking about ascending to the status of Leader to all Americans. That leader's responsibilities do not include imbuing us with false pride because we share one or two demographic categories with the individual or existing as a role model for our children simply by Being There. A POTUS has larger fish to fry.
Our additional responsibility is to realize that when we get through patting ourselves on the back for electing first woman or black POTUS, when the novelty wears off, we’re stuck with our decision. It’s like a marriage.
And it won’t be Obama’s skin color or Clinton’s femaleness which will be making decisions for us, The People. The decisions will come from the individual’s thought process, for which the only reliable means of evaluation is: past actions. And I know that most of us aren’t mendacious enough to pretend that everyone with our, say, same skin color is a) competent and/or b) has our best interest at heart. (BTW, what kind of role model would the first black and/or distaff POTUS set if he/she turns out to be the worst president ever?)
Stop thinking with your feelings, folks. We all have to live here freely and securely for a lot longer than it will take for our pride of accomplishing Dr. King’s Dream to wear off.