Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Gift for Hillary

Dear friends, supporters, colleagues and fellow Democrats. I am here today to announce that I am withdrawing from the contest for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. This has been a very difficult decision for me to come to, but difficulty ought not stand in the way of what is right, what is prudent and ultimately what is best for the Democratic Party and for the country.

This campaign by any measure is historic. We have seen record numbers of Democrats, both young and old, of all races, ethnicities and creeds come out to vote and express their desire for a new way for our country. I am deeply honored to be a part of that excitement. To be the object of such national civic enthusiasm is a rare privilege for any American citizen. I profoundly appreciate that embrace and enthusiasm and recognize that is part of a public trust that I have tried to the best of my abilities to uphold.

Having said that, there is a larger issue at play here. Enthusiasm, when stoked incorrectly, is the substance of mobs and the enemy of rational thought. This competition, between myself and Senator Obama, has positively energized Democrats to levels that we have not seen in generations. As I have gone criss-crossing this great nation of ours, I have seen the excitement in the faces of Democrats of all kinds – excitement that is anchored by a faith in a new way. The growing discord that is fueled in part by the media and in part by the reasonable exasperation of ambitious people threatens the positive nature of the enthusiasm we Democrats now enjoy.

It would be criminal to have this enthusiasm become the fuel of factional mobs as we turn to attacking each other. That outcome would dash the hopes of newly energized voters and worse, undermine their belief that this time the process is indeed about the well being of the individual American person and not about the personal ambitions of an already privileged candidate. We cannot, and we must not let that happen.

I do not underestimate the historical significance of my being the first woman viably contending to be the President of the United States. The symbolic meaning of that for my own daughter, for daughters and mothers and sisters across this nation is extraordinary. When I look into the eyes of women who say to me, “Hillary, it’s our time,” I understand the feminine core and yearning from which that sentiment comes. I say to those women, it is our time. It is our time and the Democratic Party is our best hope.

I am conceding this race to Senator Obama. The competition has been fierce, well fought and demonstrated the very best of our democratic process - not the least of which is the simple principal that he or she with the most votes wins. In addition, this campaign has allowed us to clearly articulate and sharpen the body of Democratic principals and policies that we believe will help this nation recover from a prolonged period of darkness and dissension.

Not only do I concede the race to Senator Obama, I endorse his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. The collective enthusiasm of our respective campaigns and bases is a political force unlike any seen in this country in living memory. It is our responsibility to ensure the Democratic principals that both Barack and I stand for – as endorsed by so many million American voters – become the guiding principals of the United States again beginning on day one 2009.

Thank you so much for your love and support and now let’s go to work and make sure we Democrats can carve a new way for our country. Thank you so much and God Bless you!!

kamau

Thursday, March 13, 2008

America, Patriotism and Mediocrity

Recently several members of congress and large segments of the public have berated the United States Air Force for awarding a $30 billion contract to French-based Airbus over U.S.-based Boeing to build a fleet of airborne fuel tankers. Here in the south, the criticism was laced with language suggesting that the Air Force’s decision was unpatriotic, that by choosing a French company, they were turning their back on the United States, its workers, its economy and all that our flag represents. Overlooked in much of the criticism is the Air Force’s statement that the quality of the Airbus proposal bested Boeing’s proposal in every significant criteria. What would these patriotic protesters prefer? That Boeing be awarded the contract despite the subpar proposal, despite the fact that Airbus’ attention to detail, quality and cost rendered it a better choice?

American patriotism is fast becoming a descent to mediocrity.

We seem quite willing to shut down our collective intellect in the face of some crude definition of what it means to be an American patriot. Not only does this trend run counter to the supposedly American ideals of merit and just deserts, it promotes nepotism and dim thinking. Awarding Boeing the contract simply because it is an American company is tantamount to nation based affirmative action. The very patriots protesting this award are those who vehemently oppose race based affirmative action with the argument that it undermines quality and is a breach of the contract with merit. Their crude patriotism blinds them even to the simple contradictions in their positions.

Under the banner of patriotism, we yell at Hispanic immigrants to learn to speak English. The implication being, that it is beneath us proud Americans to learn Spanish. The patriot angrily asks, “Why should I learn to speak Spanish to these illegals, this is America?” Indeed it is America and the outcome is that the patriot can only speak English. That renders the American patriot virtually alone in the industrialized world in our inability to communicate in more than one language.

This brand of popular patriotism that we now have is making us average. It is not a proud and bright pursuit of positive competition in the name of collective American improvement. It is a shutting down of reasoning, critical thought and the appetite for learning. Unfortunately this lowly brand of patriotism is being aided and abetted by an equally crude political landscape. Senator Clinton’s crass and derisive campaign does not help. President Bush’s sophomoric reasoning and his ‘us versus them’ ideals are equally culpable.

This brand of patriotism is not the only kind. There is another kind that is based on an appetite for learning and a fundamental respect for the world and all its complexities. This second kind promotes high achievement, cultural and social maturity and ultimately a reason to be proud of the country in which we live. That nation pride is pure and is a sustainable foundation for real American patriotism.

As such... Obama '08!!

kamau