There are many things that have been said about Senator Barack Obama’s speech on race in America yesterday. And like many, I struggle to attempt to avoid political viewpoints on a largely business-related blog. Senator Obama’s speech is too good not to say something, and it’s more than just oratory. It was brave in many ways.
I see politics and campaigns as two separate arguments: the idealized, “what is right” version and the reality of getting elected. I think this is a watershed moment as some pundits say, quite honestly telling one everything you need to know about Senator Obama. It’s quite possible that we will look back at this moment as a turning point. Whether this was a smart speech for getting elected only remains to be seen, but I hope it was.
Why this is a great speech from a leader who I think can be this country’s great leader (some of which many, many have echoed):
- He is smart. This is an intellectual, analytical speech.
- He speaks to us, the public, as adults instead of children incapable of forming their own thoughts and conclusions for their own.
- He is a living, breathing human being, with weaknesses. As Marc Andressen starts in his endorsement post of Obama, he is a normal guy.
- He embraces weakness in others and does not condemn them. He does not embrace or excuse hatred or ignorance that may manifest itself from this weakness, but does not condemn the person whose shoes you can never, ever truly understand.
- He embraces the notion of change, but has no illusion that there is no disillusion everywhere: black, white, Asian, Latino, man or woman.
- He speaks the common words of kindness and understanding instead of from hypocritical talking points for advantage, such as “do unto others”.
- He does not avoid the hard issues or the hard words. While sweeping under the rug may be the politically prudent thing to do, it is not the right thing to do for this country.
- He is willing to say what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
I am a Barack Obama supporter for specifically these reasons because he is a leader in the truest sense of word, something we should aspire to but also want for ourselves, to lead this great country. This is leadership.