Can Obama win?

Can Barack Obama Win? Yes. But there's a caveat: he must speak with a heartfelt passion, leavened with anger and urgency, about "turning the page." He must argue convincingly that the time has come to pass the torch to a new generation, one formed and tempered in the final decades of the previous century, but not of the body politik as framed by Bush-Clinton-Bush. America waits for new leadership, for a new direction forward, for bold yet measured answers to issues that have languished too long while cynically used to divide.

He must say with conviction that his candidacy mirrors the America of tomorrow and not yesterday. And yet, though it may seem counterintuitive, he must reach back some forty years to a time when America was also in great need of leadership, back to the wonderful and awful decade known as the 60s and the candidacy of Robert Kennedy and the struggle for civil rights of Martin Luther King. When those two men walked across the national stage and spoke of what America could be and not what it had become, the air was electric with excitement &

the same excitement that began to stir when Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency on a bitterly cold Illinois day last winter.

But in the months that followed, Obama, sounding professorial and cautious, dampened that flame of hope and enthusiasm. Not because of what he said in response to the pressing concerns facing our country, but because he seemed reluctant to raise his voice, find a passionate cadence, and say, with a burning conviction, here is what must be done and I know I can do it; we can do it. America is at a crossroads. More than seven years have passed since the current administration took office and the damage done to America is incalculable. This is our time. Our moment. I will step forward &

without equivocation, without parsing my sentences, without fear of offending, absent opinion polls &

and speak my truth and ask Americans to join me in restoring our great nation to its rightful place in the world community. We can do this. We can rebuild our infrastructure. We can solve our health care crisis. We can rebuild our inner city schools and assure that no child is indeed left behind. We can restore our Constitution in the belief that we are a nation of laws and not men. We can become a nation of courageous diplomacy, asking all nations to join us in a worldwide dialogue aimed at eliminating war as a means for dispute resolution while we eradicate the triumvirate of poverty and disease and hunger that form the wretched crucible which shrivels the human spirit, desiccates the human body and robs billions around the globe of hope.

When MLK and RFK stood before the nation, together, for one incandescent moment, people across the country raised their faces and watched and listened, and held their collective breath and whispered "if only." In the spring of 1968, Bobby stood in the back of an open car, passing along the poorest and meanest city streets of Los Angeles, and spoke to those on the frayed edges of society. He pushed back his thatch of hair and looked into the faces of those before him and burned with conviction while appealing to the best in them. And hands of all colors, in growing numbers, reached out to touch him. What they were embracing &

just a remnant of his coat, a graze of his hand &

was not just the man, but hope. Which had been so long absent as America walked through the long sundering nightmare of Vietnam and the harrowing days brought on by the lament of all black citizens for the restoration of civil rights and manifest equality. It was that hope that Martin evoked when he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared with thousands his dream. And his dream, and Bobby's, ever so briefly, became ours. It was a time like no other. And then they were gone.

Barack also has a dream. If you pay attention you can hear it in his words. He has a dream for America. But he must articulate it. Not with a measured, professorial syntax, not in hesitant responses, a hesitancy born of the complexity of the issues that confront us. He must share his dream boldly. The heart gripping enthusiasm of the early spring of 1968 can be resurrected if Barack would so choose. He has the ability &

the life experience, the intelligence, the heart &

to once again bring Americans to their feet, for as a nation we are ready to resonate once again to a new dream.

And like those who took the journey through the 60s, we of this new millennium, who have endured the last seven years, who have witnessed another Vietnam, are ready to turn the page. That phrase, that visual metaphor, so pregnant of meaning and, yes, hope, must be explained and offered up to all who will listen.

Of course, to look at Obama is to ask the implicit question: can a black man be elected President in America? The answer to that question is also yes. Of course. To elect Obama would be a transcendent moment for our country, a final turning away from a history of profound tragedy and insidious racism that has haunted us for far too long. This is our time. We can dream. And we can turn the page.

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