Obama on Fathers

We liberal and Democratic bloggers have a significant task laid out before us over the next five months in regards to the presidential election.  The right has made it clear that they have little concern for defining or defending McCain, but instead heaping everything they got on Obama and then some.

Thus, for me at least, it’s important not only to go after McCain, not only to defend Obama, but to do the one thing few conservative bloggers seem willing to do; and that is make a positive case on behalf of my candidate.

In the end, I think that may be what does it; for many of us, we actually LIKE the candidate we’re going to vote for.

“I’m big on personal responsibility, so I’m a conservative,” was the beginning of a long running political conversation I had with a coworker many years ago.  One that had to end when he claimed that he would be executed even if he was innocent just because he believed in the Death Penalty so much, and when he called John McCain a traitor for talking under torture during his time as a POW.

The big myth lurking around out there in our highly charged partisan war of ideas is that liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility.  That we want government to take care of everything while everyone gets to do whatever the hell we want.

Of course this is more caricature than characterization.

One of the things that I was impressed with in regards to Senator Obama early on is his approach to the status of the American family, and we’re not just talking about deadbeat dads either, but the whole deal, from making sure your kids sit down and do their homework, to knowing when to turn the television off, to providing a healthy diet.  In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote passionately and honestly about the responsibilities of parenthood, and how too many parents aren’t meeting those responsibilities.

And it was these themes that took center stage in Obama’s father’s day address yesterday.  I’m sure there’s a way to twist this, but here’s the thing, and perhaps it’s a key difference.  Republicans, I believe, too often hide behind a cloak of personal responsibility; a shadow of the small government theme they claim to be so steadfastly for.

But sometimes, and this necessity is apolitical, it takes a leader to stand up and demand from the people that they actually adhere to those precepts of personal responsibility.  That Obama is black will likely dominate the coverage from many corners much along the vein of; he’s black, so he can tell this to black people when non-black people can’t.

But the familial problems that face this country are not strictly held within the confines of the African American community, and I don’t think it is the color of Obama’s skin that makes him the best equipped to speak on these issues.

For all the discussion of who is the elitist, and who isn’t, what gives Obama the authority to speak on these topics is not the color of his skin, but instead the nature of his youth.  He was not born into a rich family, and his father wasn’t an Admiral.  He grew up, like many of us, in a broken home, and worked his way up from humble beginnings.  As a boy whose own father in many ways abandoned him, Obama knows exactly the kind of world many children are coming in today, and yet he stands as an example of not only what can be accomplished, but also, well, how to be a father and a man of a strong family.

To read the speech in full, go check out Joan Walsh’s Salon piece.

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  1. Right Wing Nut House » OBAMA NAILS IT ON FATHERS DAY - [...] fact, this thoughtful rumination on the left and personal responsibility raises many interesting questions: The big myth lurking around…
  2. PoliticalStage.com » Blog Archive » OBAMA NAILS IT ON FATHERS DAY - [...] fact, this thoughtful rumination on the left and personal responsibility raises many interesting questions: The big myth lurking around…

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