(As published in my school newspaper for March, 2008)
Presidential candidate Barack Obama is bar-none the most likeable candidate left in the race for President, but behind his lofty rhetoric, is there any substance?
As many Americans know by now, Illinois Senator Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and grew up in Indonesia. His father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. Later in life, he was a community organizer on the south side of Chicago. Then in 1997 he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. He served there until his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. At that point, Obama was a little known figure but won the Democratic primary. His Republican challenger was thought to be Jack Ryan, who had a wide polling advantage. But in June of 2004, Ryan withdrew amid marital strife. This forced the Illinois GOP to replace Ryan in the middle of the election, fatally injuring the party’s chances in November.
Then, Obama delivered the Keynote address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. It was a powerful, bipartisan speech which catapulted him onto the national scene. Obama went on to a landslide victory in the fall election and very early in his Senate career, supporters began mulling a higher office for Obama. After serving only 18 months in the U.S. Senate, Obama launched his Presidential bid.
So now that you know Barack Obama’s past, I ask you, does being a U.S. Senator for a year and a half qualify you to be Commander in Chief?
But then comes the question of what Barack Obama has done in his time as a public servant. That question is interesting because many of Obama’s supporters can’t even come up with an answer. For example, on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Mathews, an Obama surrogate was asked if he could name an accomplishment of Obama’s, he couldn’t even name one. On national television a politician who has endorsed this man for President, can’t name one thing that his candidate has done. I guess Obama’s theme of “change we can believe in” requires a lot of believing, because there isn’t much behind it.
I notice here at our school there are many Barack Obama supporters. When I ask some of them why they are supporting Obama, the most frequent response is that he speaks amazingly well. Well that’s all fine and good, but does that mean he should lead our country?
Other students even cite Obama’s race as a factor in their vote. Now wait a minute, are we really going to choose the next leader of the free world based on his race?
But let’s take a look at Obama’s rhetoric, though. One of his tried and true applause lines is to “bring the country together”. Again that sounds nice, but the truth is that Obama votes with his party more than 90 percent of the time. And the National Journal rated him the most liberal Senator in the U.S. Senate.
Obama uses inspirational words to describe his campaign for the Presidency: “hope”, “change”, “turning the page”, “change we can believe in”. But it seems that behind his broad speeches, there are little or no real solutions to America’s many problems. I’m sure people can point toward his website and his well thought out positions on every issue, but what makes any of us believe that he will be different than any other Presidential hopeful. Many of America’s problems date back decades, and in those decades we’ve had Presidents that have had a lot more experience than Barack Obama. Obama’s powerful speeches promise to not only change the country, but to “change the world”. But he knows full well that he cannot deliver on all of those lofty promises, his record is as thin as it is partisan.
My point is this, let’s not get duped by a man promising the world in return for our votes. Let’s try to look beyond Barack Obama’s infectious style and bring him down to earth in our minds. Let us not forget the old adage to not to judge a book by its cover, even if that cover looks and sounds eloquent, because in the end, it may be empty.