In 2006, as former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. was making his bid for the U.S. Senate, he brought a bright, first-term senator from Illinois to Memphis for a campaign fundraiser. I met that young senator, who I described at the time as warm, charming and personable while also regal, a dynamic orator, a charismatic personality and a definite star on the rise!
It was apparent that there was something unique, transformative and compelling about the senator. Unfortunately for Ford and the voters who backed him, that magic did not translate into victory, but would nonetheless be significant. Two years later, that senator, Barack H. Obama, became the first African American elected President of the United States of America.
This was an incredibly historic feat considering that he rose from near obscurity to leader of the free world in record time after a dynamically inspiring speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The speech signaled the beginning of a new found hope for so many in America; a new hope that this country could actually live up to the true definition of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal."
His words fueled a new hope that this country could hew out a new reality of progress and prosperity from all the work, lost lives, deferred dreams and sustained struggle. Hope emerged that the economy could turn around, that people could get back to work, that teetering, long-standing industries might be revived and restored, that we could live in a safer, freer world and that health care could be made affordable and available for mass numbers of uninsured.
That hope manifested into unprecedented voter turnout to make Barack Hussein Obama the 44th President. Also unprecedented was the level of significant challenges facing the country at the time he came into office. Eight years of failed policies had decimated the middle class and made things even more difficult on the poor and working class. President Obama took over having to deal with a failing banking industry, a failed mortgage and housing market, the failing auto industry, the need to insure 50 million uninsured Americans, the continued high-level threat of terrorist acts orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and the worst economic decline in the country's history since the Great Depression.
Remembering his promises and personifying the hope that his leadership represented, he went to work fixing the banking industry and the housing marketing, fixing the auto industry, and spearheading passage of the historic Affordable Health Care Act to make sure all Americans have access to health care services. He put Osama Bin Laden out of his misery and significantly weakened Al Qaeda, decreasing the global and domestic threat of terrorism. He has gotten the country and the economy back on the right track with smart policies that build up the middle class and create a path of opportunity for all – instead of just the very wealthy.
President Obama did all of this despite unprecedented disrespect, roadblocks by Congress, and a day-one declaration from Republicans that their number one goal would be to make him a one-term President (versus working with him to fix all that ailed the country).
Against these odds, he made a way forward for the country. The President has proven to be the leader this country needed and needs to continue moving forward. We can delight in no backwards steps. A vote for anyone other than President Obama represents retardation of progress from the forward trajectory on which he has put us.
Much work remains; work that can only be continued during this President's second term. The way forward must include continued work on growing the economy, issues for women, issues concerning immigrants/Hispanics, certainly a more substantial agenda for supporting better access and quality of life for African Americans and, ultimately, building a country with greater freedom and opportunity for all Americans to pursue their hopes and dreams. That is what a second term for President Obama represents – forward motion on the hope for a better America.
For these reasons, The New Tri-State Defender wholeheartedly endorses President Barack Obama for a second term as President of the United States of America. We encourage all of our readers to go to the polls and vote to re-elect President Barack Obama on November 6.
– Bernal E. Smith II, President/Publisher