What I am about to say is completely anecdotal. But I have a sense that the candidacy of Barack Obama, should he become the Democratic nominee, will present a monumental change in black America as a political force. Certainly, black voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, but there is a large segment of black America that like the rest of America does not vote. They’re not engaged in the process because they don’t see what’s really in it for them and their families.
I truly believe Barack Obama can change this. He is the first major party candidate who is black who has a legitimate shot at being president. President Clinton was often called the “First Black President” because he spoke the language of black America and gave us a seat at the table that other presidents haven’t (the GOP strategy of putting a few black faces in high ranking positions while pushing policies that undercut blacks has done nothing to endear that party to black Americans), but Barack Obama would be the actual first black president, without the quotes.
Parents like to tell their kids that they could grow up to be president. It’s parental advice and prodding that cuts across racial and sexual lines. But I believe that the fact that Obama in the White House would be an actual for-real honest to goodness realization of that idea for a black man will become a major driving force in his support from black voters. I think that if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, we will see unprecedented turnout and shoe leather on the ground support for him among blacks, including a major push for voter registration. For an entire generation of black Americans, there has not been any major cause to be a part of in the way that the civil rights movement was over 40 years ago. I believe that Obama, who is right to not be running as a “black issues” candidate will organically become that cause for millions of people.
Millions of black people across America would like to be able to tell their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, cousins and the like that they could grow up to be president then actually point to the White House and see a guy that looks like them.