Waiting Your Whole Life for a Miracle, and Then It Happens
When I was a teenager I read a novel about the first Black president. I can’t even remember the name of the book. It was one of those thrillers filled with intrigue a la Advise and Consent. I think the white president was either impeached or assassinated or something along those lines and the Black man became president almost by accident. Reading it made me feel good about myself because conjuring the image of a Black president, no matter how much of a distant dream it seemed, felt like doing the right thing.
As I contemplate the distinct possibility that Barack Obama might win both the Democratic nomination AND the presidency, I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s happening. For all my life I’ve dreamed of the possibility of this country having a Black, a woman and a Jewish president. Though Jesse Jackson broke ground with his 1988 run, it seemed this country still had a long way to go before an African-American could run more than a symbolic race.
You spend your whole life dreaming of something happening. It appears impossible. Even six months ago, Obama’s prospects were almost infinitesimal. What changed in that time? What made the stars align so that he might actually achieve the Holy Grail of American politics? I don’t know. But there is no doubt that there is some kind of political magic in the air. I just hope that young people cherish this moment. If Obama does become president, in another decade or two the astonishing breakthrough of his run will seem completely normal. Few will remember how hard it was to get here and how long it took.
I spend time talking with my six year old about politics and just the other day I tried to explain to him why an Obama candidacy was so unique. I think he found it hard to grasp. He so far doesn’t “get” racial politics. I guess that’s just as well. Maybe he’ll grow up in a time when a candidate’s race and skin color won’t matter.
Next, I’m hoping for a woman president and a Jewish president in my lifetime. And while we’re at it maybe a president who helps negotiate a comprehensive peace treaty with Israel and her Arab neighbors. As long as we’re contemplating miracles, why not that one too?
8 thoughts on “Waiting Your Whole Life for a Miracle, and Then It Happens – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“I’m hoping for a woman president and a Jewish president in my lifetime.”
I think it’s as pointless to vote for someone because they’re Black or woman or gay, or… as it would be to vote against them for this reason.
All things being equal, I am thrilled when generally in the world I can see people who are not rich straight white men.
However, I doubt if any sane person thinks that having a Black man on the Supreme Court in the person of Clarence Thomas brings us closer to a country where justice is cherished.
I am NOT comparing Clarence Thomas and Obama. No comparison is imaginable there.
But we should be careful of what we wish for. Can you say Condaleeza Rice?
I’m sure your thinking is not as simplistic as I’m making it out to be, Richard.
But when you say you’d like to see a Jewish president, I’m sure in your mind you’re qualifying that. Alan Dershkowitz (sp) ?
So then what does it mean to say one wants a Black or woman or Jewish president?
I don’t get it.
I want Dennis Kucinich for my president, because he shares my values.
Dream big, Richard. How about a Muslim president, an atheist president and a gay president?
Now an atheist president, that would be something!
Heck, I’d be happy to have a president who did not feel the need to make their religious beliefs (or lack of) part of the public record.
I have little doubt that had Barbara Jordan lived she would’ve run for president & likely won. Wouldn’t this have thrilled you? I know it would me.
I wouldn’t want ANY Jew or woman to be president. President Jeanne Kirkpatrick? I think not. Pres. Joe Lieberman? Ugh! But a President Feingold would thrill me no end.
I think the reason why these things are important is that it challenges Americans to widen their horizons & their perceptions of who would make an acceptable president. It’s important to encourage diversity in society & these sorts of things do that.
Richard, I hope you’re right about some future president being able to broker a peaceful accommodation between Israel and her neighbours. Mr. Obama certainly seems better positioned than most to fulfil that role and, if elected in ’09, I’m sure he means to travel that road. However, it’s often been within the gift of those less obvious politicians to propose and advance such major transitions. One thinks of Nixon and China, Sharon and Gaza. More favoured candidates have, in the past, achieved little of the dramatic turn of events necessary to forge new links, follow unfamiliar paths. President Obama may find himself a prisoner of his own and others expectations.
In any event, this will all take time to bring about. And time, as we all know, is never a constant ally. Wounds allowed to fester, infections left untreated are rarely in the best interests of those so afflicted. If the matter is left to the vagaries of events and the promises of an uncertain tomorrow, the cost of such delay, no matter how unavoidable, will be paid in the all too common coin of death and destruction.
So, while we await the ‘miracle,’ might we not look again to that coinage? What if we were to revalue it so massively that all thought of actually spending it soon begins to vanish? Then some other currency must take its place, perhaps one that is more universally acceptable to us all.
In which case, our miracle may have been there all along – and we just too blind to notice it.
You spend your whole life dreaming of something happening. It appears impossible. Even six months ago, Obama’s prospects were almost infinitesimal. What changed in that time? What made the stars align so that he might actually achieve the Holy Grail of American politics? I don’t know. But there is no doubt that there is some kind of political magic in the air.
This sort of Obama messianic talk makes me a bit queasy. He’s just an ordinary guy that happens to be black (or half black). He seems to be a decent guy, but too many people are falling for him just because of his race and not seriously questioning his lack of experience. You’re saying you spent your whole life dreaming of a black president?
My own kids also don’t think anything about race at all (either as a preference or a non-preference) and that’s just the way I like it. If Obama or Hillary wins, I won’t mention anything about it being first black/or woman president.
I don’t think of Obama as a political messiah. But I do have high hopes that he can inspire change in our political processes. I’ve witnessed enough American history & politics to understand that he has potential weaknesses. And I will be watching for them to display themselves. But so far I’m mightily impressed.
BTW, you should note that I have been strongly critical of his policy & statements about the I-P conflict so he doesn’t walk on water as far as I’m concerned.
The name of the the book is The Man by Irving Wallace.