Thank you, Leonel. I want to say this: It's not that I foresaw the outcome from the beginning. Who could have, other than Obama himself? No, I cannot take credit for that. But what I strongly defended from the very beginning was Barack Obama's decision to run for the presidency. I felt all along that if there was anything at all that was left to believe in the American Ideal, it was THE SACRED RIGHT of ANY AMERICAN, born in the U.S. to run, at a time of HIS/HER choosing, for the PRESIDENCY of the "United States of America".
Annen mo, nèg la granmoun, ba li dwa granmoun li.
The two people that I credit the most for forecasting the DREAM that we have lived since that August day in Denver, Colorado are: Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy. King put forth the dream in an incredibly forceful and elegant oratorical style. Back in 1968, Kennedy was prescient enough to say for the record that he could foresee a Black person running successfully for President in 40 years. Well, 40 years later, the dream has become reality. I know that it would have happened without my input, but I am glad that I played the part that I did in demonstrating for all to see that I, too, BELIEVED in a dream that begged not to be deferred with any sort of rationalization.
My message was simple: Let's stop playing the pundits and believe instead in our capacities for transformation. Our job in this struggle is not to cave in to the negativity that surrounds us but to catch the pass and run for the end zone, as confidently as we possibly can.
What I feared the most in this race was not racism. As I said before, a racist is a racist is a racist. We cannot truly convert them, though in the end, I even saw a group called "Racists for Obama". I could never take them seriously, though, as that is a contradiction in terms. But in my 37 years in the U.S., I have seen the emergence of a post-racial generation. This truly does not mean that RACE is no longer a factor in America. Only the most naive person would believe that. Race is a factor and will always be a factor in the history of mankind. However, it has become a factor that can be routinely now overcome with sheer strength of character. The examples are all around us. We just have to believe, as all other ethnic and immigrant groups that have achieved a high level of success in American that "YES, WE CAN".
What I did fear more than anything else was the seemingly inexhaustible capacity of the Republican machine to cheat and to steal. In my mind, that was by far the greatest danger that Obama faced. The Democrats did not appear to have the ability to counter that. The biggest deception EVER in my political life (allow me to call it that, even though I never have never run for anything) was the moment that John Kerry conceded the race four years ago, without putting up a fight in Ohio. I was truly disgusted. "Fool me once... but fool me twice?" or as George Bush would put it "There's an old saying in Tennessee... I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennesse, that says: Fool me once, shame on... ... shame on you. But fool me, can't get fool again!" Well, the Democrats showed their capacity to get fooled and fooled again. As Barack Obama demonstrated again and again his rare ability to overcome extraordinary obstacles placed in his path, I still feared the powerful Republican Vote Stealing Machine. Would the Democrats succumb to it a third time in a row? In the end, Barack Obama, his campaign manager and their superb organization outsmarted them all. They deployed thousands of lawyers all across the country, and made it extraordinarily hard for the Republican V.S.M. to pick up steam in its dirty work. I realized a few weeks ago that finally, here was a Democrat who would not put up with the nonsense.
In the end, if you want to give me credit for anything, it's for my own belief that a dream voluntarily deferred is a dream defeated. That is why I have never engaged in the foolishness of this bit of historical revisionism: that African Slaves in the French colony of Saint Domingue should have delayed the dream of becoming an independent nation. We have not fully realized the dream of our ancestors, but we should never blame them in any way for dreaming of the freedom that we exercise today, a freedom that they have died for. The fault was not theirs, the fault is ours for not pushing further the boundaries of the dream and not having work hard enough to overcome ALL OBSTACLES to "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité". We have acted as a defeated people. We have cried "Uncle" too may times. But one day, we too shall witness a Barack Obama in our midst... I may not live to see that day, but it will happen.
Barack Obama's success is great. but by nature temporary. It needs to be sustained. The hard work has just begun. Hopefully, he will provide for a long time the sort of leadership that has confounded so far all of his critics. He set into place an extraordinary political organization that students of American Politics will study for the ages. the HOPE now is that this organization will fully understand that it cannot allow itself to disassemble at this moment. It should be kept in place to capitalize on the torrent of youthful energy that they have unleashed. After eight years of irresponsible behavior at the executive and legislative levels, the challenge before them is great. After the brief partying that is called for (exorcism really), it will be time to roll up the sleeves and begin to work. I do think that Obama, more than any recent leader and perhaps more than anyone else, understands that his MISSION HAS JUST BEGUN.
Let's give him a hand.