Back in 2004, an intelligent, young state senator from the south side of Chicago wowed the Democratic Convention. He was tall, lean, articulate – and black.
Because his speech went over so well, movers and shakers in the party began to tingle about his chances as a candidate for president. Their recent candidates were professional politicians, strongly aligned with the Washington establishment, and also calm under fire and good speakers, but they had managed to lose – twice – to a far less accomplished speaker and debater, George W. Bush.
So why not groom this young senator, start a media campaign, keep him out of scandalous behavior and begin to spread the word that he was “the one we’ve been waiting for”? Hey, start really emphasizing the word “change,” as if it had just been coined and not used in every election since George Washington left office. Bring in young techies who could utilize the Internet to propagandize young people, exciting them about the new young guy who could answer everybody’s problems and revolutionize politics.
And maybe even eventually fund and mobilize certain shadowy “populist” groups like ACORN to get hundreds of thousands of previous non-voters registered and voting early, playing fast and loose with regulations and even state boundaries, possibly using multiple credit cards and other methods to allow some to vote multiple times. The main idea would be to create a sense of inevitability, of destiny, of a time that has come – and a worthy young black man to lead the way.
That young black man was Barack Hussein Obama.
Of course, his very name and implied Muslim background might be a problem – and likewise the obvious fact that his few years in public office seemed to have been spent primarily reaching for higher office, and not building any record of accomplishment. But ironically, both – if spun properly – might be seen as assets! Since Obama had done so little of consequence, there was much less to confront him on, other than the 173 times he voted “present” rather than taking a position on an issue. And his Arabic name might actually appeal to young people who love something different and countercultural; and for older, more knowledgeable adults, he could claim to be a Christian, based on his 20-year membership in Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ.
Candidate Obama’s lack of experience and derived wisdom could be made up for by long sessions with people who had experience and knowledge, people who could instruct him in what to say that appealed to voters. And fortunately, since our war effort in Iraq has been often so unpopular, the stark fact that Barack Obama never wore a uniform or faced a deadly enemy might not convince voters he’d be unequipped to be commander in chief of our military.
So the candidate seemed just perfect. All that remained was to recruit billionaires, corporate heads and prominent entertainers who leaned to the left and were desperate to have a liberal Democrat in the White House. And by all means, get the media to drop all pretense of objectivity and anoint Obama the predestined Savior of America.
And wow! Perhaps best of all, the candidate was black. Who could vote against him and not be thought racist?
Well, I attended a lunch yesterday hosted by David Horowitz and his Freedom Center, featuring a supremely qualified black man who should have been the candidate with all this steamroller support.
The man is Ward Connerly.
What a story his is! Born in very humble circumstances, his mother died when he was 4, and his father turned him over to his maternal grandmother and walked out of his life. His grandmother, whom he called “Mom,” gave him to her daughter Bertha and her husband, James Louis, for most of his growing up years. He was a 6-year-old black kid, and nobody would have blamed him if he’d lived a wasted, inconsequential and perhaps tragic life.
But Ward has been an exceptionally successful and influential man. In his just published, deeply moving book, “Lessons from My Uncle James,” he details the reasons for his success. His uncle, who “hadn’t made it past the third grade,” was a fundamentally wise man. A hard-working, moral and patriotic husband and father, he took a 6-year-old boy who wasn’t his own blood kin and taught him basic principles for living – and they sank in deeply.
The boy learned to earn his own way, taking all sorts of tough, menial jobs, and worked his way through school, including college, the very first in his family to do that. He married a fine woman, built a successful business career and eventually was named to the University of California Board of Regents – a lofty achievement his Uncle James would have marveled at.
But his real life accomplishments were just starting. His Uncle James had utter disdain for racial preferences and “affirmative action,” holding a firm belief in Martin Luther King’s prophecy that the time would come when a man would be judged not “by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.” Ward, too, had proved by his own life that any man or woman could succeed in life through hard work and discipline, not by any kind of preferences or “handouts.”
So, fiercely committed to a color-blind America, Ward Connerly has successfully campaigned to ban racial preferences in state institutions in California, Washington and Michigan. And he’s picking up momentum! He founded the American Civil Rights Institute, a national not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the need to move beyond race and toward a truly color-blind government. In months to come, the Institute is targeting Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and eventually the whole nation.
This is a man, a true man in every sense, with administrative experience, moral character and a giant vision. I wish I could vote for Ward Connerly for president of the United States. I think we’d be in wonderful hands.