was a modest declaration to seek this country’s highest political
office almost two years ago. In a crowded field of Democratic heavyweights,
the candidacy of Barack Obama was initially not taken seriously.
it happened. Change did come to America
on November 4 with all the world watching. Barack Obama became the
44th president of the United
States and its first African-American.
Election Day, urban radio stations played songs like “A Change is
Gonna Come” and “We are the World.”
countries around the world supported the Obama candidacy by a three
to one margin.
millions of people voted, many waiting in lines for up to 8 hours,
determined to cast their vote for Obama and be a footnote on the
page of this nation’s history book.
celebrations, tearful reflections and trepid declarations punctuated
the Obama victory.
had the audacity to talk about hope, a human emotion that must be
nurtured, if people are to be inspired for tomorrow’s promise. The
other candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, discounted this
important factor in their respective campaigns until they saw how
it resonated with a hope-starved populace.
has been quite a ride - a long one at that. It is going down as
the longest campaign in history. In retrospect, I realize that Obama
was smart in starting his campaign nearly two years ago. It would
take that long for voters to get to know this man, his family, his
roots, his principles. By the end of the campaign, I was finishing
his sentences like a wife in a long marriage.
campaigns set new records for raising and spending monies. The cost
for the race to the White House is estimated at $1.5 billion - reaffirming
the need for campaign finance reform.
unrelenting effort to suppress votes, particularly in battleground
states, must be addressed decisively. It has occurred openly for
three election cycles now and cannot be ignored - reaffirming the
need for more election reform and reinforcement of existing laws.
kind of response that Barack Obama inspired has been mind bottling.
I have never, ever seen this many people from the many different
backgrounds react in the same way about a person. I studied the
campaign as Obama built a ground organization that will become the
gold standard in American political campaigns. I did what any good
organizer would do: I took notes.
is not joyous about the Obama victory. You have the bitter white
folks who are holding onto their guns and religion. And you have
folks on the left castigating anyone who participates in the electoral
arena of the moribund capitalist system. Some of the black left
seem to be particularly upset that there’s all this to-do about
a black man running for the titular head of Babylon.
can’t speak for others but I am not naďve. I know the limitations
of the US presidency. I know that President Obama will
be tested in ways his predecessors never would. I know that even
if Obama is sincere about implementing the policies he articulated
on the campaign trail, he may not always be able to count on his
gutless, spineless, money-grubbing Congresspeople who are out for
their own self-serving agendas. Obama’s challenges include steadying
a tail-spinning economy, developing an exit strategy for two misguided
wars, improving the tarnished world image of the US
and a host of other challenges on the horizon.
is no doubt the social justice movements will have to hold Obama’s
feet to the fire. Since
we help put him there, it’s our duty to both make him accountable
when he veers and to support him when he’s trying to carry out work
on issues we deem important.
social movements organize under the banner of building toward transformative
politics and democracy. To pursue our progressive agenda, any organizer
worth his or her salt knows that opportunities for achieving reforms
are more likely under an Obama administration than a McCain one.
An astute organizer does not put all of its strategies and tactics
in one basket and the electoral arena is but one of several arenas
where we fight for working class power.
Obama said he was going to change the political map of the US. According to the latest electoral map on the
Obama, along with his three million volunteers, has done just that.
Most of the map is shades of blue.
of us in the various social movements can sharpen our organizing
skills by collectively studying, debating and assessing the Obama
ground game. The
little bit of Organizing 101 that he learned from people like us
while in Chicago took him to the White House. Some adaptation and revamping
of those organizing principles should definitely enhance our capacity
to take on our own challenges we face. Let’s go out there and see
who we can inspire.
to post a comment about the election
and read what others are saying
on the BC Readers' Corner Blog
member, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical Congress
National Organizer. Click here
to contact Ms. Rogers.