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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Best And Worst In Me

Big Hat Tip and Shout Out to Baratunde Thurston at Jack and Jill Politics for his most recent article in the The Huffington Post. He writes about the Presidential Primary Campaign and how it has brought out the Best and Worst in him. All I can say is, "brother, you really know how to keep it real." This primary campaign brought out the best and worst of me too.

P.S. Thanks for the shout out!


Baratunde Thurston

Check out
This Primary Campaign Has Brought Out The Best And Worst In Me
by Baratunde Thurston

Last week, after talking with several Hillary Clinton supporters, I had an epiphany: that which I most dislike about the darker sides of her and her campaign is just what some people see in me. It's the worst feeling, to end up displaying traits you deplore, and I'd like to explore it a bit as we move to the general election.

I have never been as involved nor as invested in a political campaign as I have been this year. I've traveled to distant states, administered caucuses, knocked on doors, set up mixtapes, installed Internet access, raised and donated funds and rallied my wits and my keyboard in promotion and defense of a candidate I feel represents the best realistic shot at a national wake-up call that's long overdue.

Months of cable news and blog coverage later, I know more about superdelegate math, fundraising limits and John King's stupid interactive maps than I ever, ever wanted.

I've read entire biographies, full position papers and engaged in heated but productive conversations about deep policy matters on health care, energy, prisons, agriculture and Iraq. I got smarter.

Stepping down from the media noise machine has been the greatest gift, and in canvassing for Obama, I learned my most valuable lessons: that people are not as stupid nor as simple as their media portrayals, that it's a lot easier to write off entire blocs of voters from the comfort of my living room and that becoming president of a nation with such diverse people and demands as the USA is just short of impossible.

In all that on-the-ground work, I have and will continue to maintain that I've gotten much more out of this process than Obama has out of my work on his behalf. My level of involvement has allowed me to see the impact and power of citizen-initiated action when paired with technology, inspiration and urgent need. I've met some truly amazing people who've sacrificed even more than I. I've grown as a writer, a citizen and a human being.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, I have felt driven to lash out in ways that expose the limits of my own ability to communicate.

I never set out to hate Hillary Clinton or her supporters. I never thought I'd consider a vote for John McCain. I never thought I'd even jokingly threaten to burn down the city of Denver (sorry yall!). But that's exactly what I felt driven to at many moments during this season. Despite the positive lessons I learned, I have not always been able to take that high road.

At the heart of my own anger lay a sense of betrayal, paranoia and a feeling that I was trapped by a family I once held in high esteem and a media that denied the validity of my experience.

It began in January, shortly after Obama's Iowa victory. Many of us Obama supporters, especially black folks, were euphoric about his win in that state. On CNN I stated, "I felt like I won," after seeing the results come in. With that one victory, the world shook for a moment, and I could actually see new, previously unimaginable possibilities for the future.

Within weeks, however, a troubling pattern began to emerge from the Clinton campaign. It was as if the Iowa loss set off an explosion on a snowy mountain, and a political avalanche was unleashed. Obama was accused of being a potential drug dealer, secret Muslim, "cool black guy" and other derogatory things usually tied to his race.

When many of us black folks began pointing out these incidents, we were told that nothing nefarious was afoot, that we must be imagining it. There was little to no mainstream media coverage of what we were seeing. As any one who has been oppressed knows, the only thing worse than the oppression is the denial of that oppression by others, so we at JJP set up the Clinton Attacks Obama wiki in an effort to convince ourselves we weren't crazy and show the world, in a documented fashion, what distressed us. More HERE>


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