Friday, June 20, 2008

Is Obama More Style Over Substance?

I've been a staunch supporter of presumed Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama since he began his campaign. He's a great orator, he inspires people and appears to have the skills to lead our country. He also happens to be African American. The occurrences of the past week have not caused me to waver in my support of Senator Obama, but they have caused me to pause and reflect on whether he is more style over substance. Something that his opponents have been stating since he began his bid for the presidency.

Political commentator Tavis Smiley was taken to task for challenging Barack Obama on accountability. Tavis openly stated that African Americans should hold Senator Obama accountable for addressing issues important to us, and forcing him to earn our vote. At the time, I was not in agreement with Mr. Smiley, but I am now. Yesterday, Obama reneged on his pledge to accept public campaign financing. He had vowed to accept the financing on several occasions in the past, but I can give him a pass on this because this is simply a strategic move, which will allow him to raise as much money as he can for his election bid. Giving him a pass does not eliminate the fact that this is clearly a change in position.

Within the past week, Senator Obama has stated that he does not support drilling for oil in the states, although gas prices are $4 in most places in the country. He supports alternative fuel sources and a Windfall Profit Tax for oil companies. Both of these stances are clear Democratic initiatives which will not give any relief to the high gas prices. Senator John McCain and President Bush both support drilling in the states, and although the economic relief will not be shown for a few years, it seems to be a better alternative than what Senator Obama is proposing.

Barack Obama has run his campaign as an agent of change. Is there really any change to what he's proposing. He spoke at a Chicago church last Sunday, stressing the fact that we have to limit television watching for our children and stress education. There's nothing new there, except a different person saying it. Kevin Johnson, who is running for Mayor of Sacramento, went back to his old high school and converted it into a Charter School, immediately put in grade requirements, and the students have stepped to the plate improving grades and test scores. Kevin Johnson is an African America.

Is it time for us to review the record of Senator Obama while he was a community activist and politician in Chicago? In reality his wife Michelle is more reflective of the black experience than he is. Should we give him a pass because he looks like us and speaks well? Perhaps it is time for us to hold him accountable to the plight of our existence and just not hand over 90% of our vote to him. He has a ton of style, but Senator Barack Obama please show us the substance.

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