With the selection of Joseph Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama has made it clear to his supporters and the nation as a whole that if elected, the Barack Obama administration will likely be the most progressive White House in this country's history. Let's forget what a target this sets for the right, and just consider what this means to those on the left. Since I consider myself part of that latter collection, here's what it means to me.
In 1994, while a sophomore in college, I enrolled in the class "Eyes on the Prize". The class focused on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and was taught by a young African-American graduate of Georgetown, whose bi-weekly lectures were raw, honest and at times, heart-wrenching. Never in my life has a class meant more to me. I would sit in class absolutely horrified at black and white films from Selma, Montgomery and other racially torn cities and small towns in the South. Having been raised in a nearly all-white suburb in Northern New Jersey, this was all new to me. Oh, I'd heard of King and Malcolm X, but I'd never been exposed to this brutality in such a real form.
I went on to read Charles Johnson, Richard Wright, and ultimately switched majors from English to Sociology (with a focus on Black Studies). I read Marx and Engel, Adam Smith and Camus. I rushed to my capital punishment class. I joined Amnesty International. My entire being was being shaped from 1994-1996, influenced by books and professors such as David Karp and Henry Blackwell. I left college in 1996 with a clear understanding of not only who'd I'd become, but who I'd always been.
Prior to the 2000 election, I recall a profile of Al Gore in the New York Times. My memory's a bit hazy, but the article covered a fundraiser on Long Island that was a who's-who of big business and big money. Evidently, when it was time for Gore to address the room, he was nowhere to be found. About 30 minutes later, one of his staffers located him on a hill about 100 yards from the banquet. Gore was lying on a hill by himself, staring up at the sky. He had to be pulled back to the event. It's a minor story, but I remember how much I could relate.
In 2004, I abandoned my job for eight months to volunteer for the Kerry campaign. Almost every day, I felt amongst like-minded folks. I felt a part of something that I'd always searched for. I saw Kerry speak once in Queens, New York, and unlike most, I found him to be genuine, stalwart and ready. Despite the loss in November, once again, this experience only furthered my self-growth.
And now 2008. With over a decade of maturation behind me, Barack Obama and Joe Biden is the dream ticket. Two progressives who've fought for the issues that are central to the democratic cause. Over the next two months, we'll likely experience some shifts towards the center, but make no mistake, if elected, this administration is it. This is the absolute antithesis of Bush and Reagan. This is deeper than Clinton or Carter. A victory remains a near coin toss, but if Obama/Biden are anointed on 11.4.08, it will be the greatest political victory of my lifetime. Everything that resides inside will finally have more than just a voice; it will have a fighting chance.