Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 8/10/2008 [Archive]

The Popular Candidate

The Popular Candidate

By Martha Randolph Carr

It has been a long time since we've had the possibility of a president who is well-received both at home and abroad. Eight years to be exact. The drought has apparently forged in some pundits' minds the idea that popularity is something to be shunned. For them, hatred, particularly on a global level is a sign of domestic and foreign policy that is in the United States best interests.

How else to explain their response to Barack Obama's recent successful tour of the world stage? Many critics pooh-poohed as they compared Obama's large receptive crowds to the accolades a rock star or young celebrity might garner. In other words, an elected leader who's doing his job should expect only riots and large, burning effigies. In the old days we used to call Obama's abilities diplomacy and saw successful diplomatic foreign relations as a job requirement in order to achieve peaceful diplomatic resolutions.

The light-weight criticism in the meantime is an example of how difficult it has been for naysayers to find something weighty to hurl at Obama in the hopes of bringing him down in defeat. Rather than talk about the issues we face in foreign policy and reflect on what it might be like to resolve old conflicts without armed conflict and loss of American lives, what we've heard instead sounds an awful lot like the kids who didn't get picked first for baseball complaining about the star hitter. Meanwhile, the game moves on without them.

This has been, in one form or another, the criticism thrown at Obama since he began running for president. Older black civil rights activists have been caught complaining about Obama's campaign being too middle-of-the-road saying essentially he's spreading himself thin by reaching out for white voters. Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus were early Clinton supporters even though Obama's nomination and possible election as the 44th president of the United States represents the fruition of withstanding fire hoses, police dogs, segregated lunch counters and jail.

They are ignoring the possibility Obama has to address past wrongs of leaving entire segments of the population out of the discussion without driving away those who are used to being in power. That's true inclusion and could result in positive change where diverse sides are more often working together. This is where McCain or even Clinton has often been unable to succeed. McCain has spent most of his political career trying to find comfortable ground within his own party, veering back and forth between the conservatives and moderates and often frustrating both sides. And while many of Clinton's policy ideas such as universal health care were groundbreaking and desperately needed they were swallowed up by partisan bickering. Without the ability to reach out to opponents and explain how the changes would benefit them as well, the ideas failed.

Without the job skill of being able to bring diverse sides together, force is often required, which as we've seen lately has its own heavy and long term consequences. The third option when diplomacy fails and force is not used is often that nothing changes and problems are allowed to become entrenched and more difficult. It's not a solution.

However, those same skills of bridge-building that allowed Obama to win Iowa in the primaries, much to a lot of people's surprise, might also make it possible for lasting and positive change in this country and abroad. That's the hope of every voter and why so many are so optimistic about what Obama will be able to accomplish. In a country like ours that is so diverse, Obama is working to represent us all.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Author's email: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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