“I don’t think [Martin Luther King, Jr.] would endorse any of us,” Barack explained last night in the South Carolina Democratic debate, in response to a question to all of the candidates asking why the Reverend would endorse them were he alive today. Once again, Barack Obama shows that underneath the politician’s exterior, he is completely in touch with the people he has served as a community organizer, a law professor, and a legislator. Barack knows that what MLK preached – true brotherhood (and sisterhood) and nonviolent revolution – has yet to be surpassed in intellect and compassion by any politician.
Yesterday all three of the candidates appeared at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march in Columbia, South Carolina to speak at the rally, but, as far as I know, only one actually went into the crowd and marched with the people. Obama. He looked calm, confident, and so proud to be walking with Americans on such a special day. When Barack spoke at the rally, he radiated with the energy of the crowd, because he, too, was one of us, although by then he had climbed up on stage. He was physically on stage, above the people, but in his heart, he felt what we all felt: unity, hope, and the courage to stand up for what we believe in: all values that Martin Luther King, Jr. espoused.
The point is, these words and actions show that Barack Obama has never been a person who considers himself above the rest, although he has always excelled at everything he’s put his mind to. He knows that some of the strongest and most intelligent people in America are sitting on stoops of broken-down houses in inner city neighborhoods, waiting for opportunities to come to them. He also appreciates the dignified position and responsibiliies that are awarded to Senators–but he, more than any other Democratic candidate, knows that these are not inherent in the characters of each politician. On the contrary, he even admitted last night that “no one’s hands are clean in politics.” But Barack became a politician because he wanted to exercise power in a way that would enact positive change in this country, and the world–so he risked dirtying his own hands, because he knew it would lead him to a place where he would have some influence.
For too long, Washington has been built on Ivory Tower politics that judges situations from afar with a bottle of Perrier and an entourage of bodyguards. Only Barack has gone out, alone and unprotected, in the unglamourous position of an organizer, to really experience the problems that have resulted from centuries of neglect in our nation.
Martin Luther King, Jr. may not endorse Barack Obama over the other candidates, but I think it is fair to say that he would be certainly proud of the thoughtfulness, dedication, and humility shown by Senator Barack Obama.