Senator Barack Obama (whom I absolutely love) recently spoke about Democrats, criticizing the views held by the party in regards to religion and faith. What he says, as usual, hits the nail on the head.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats Wednesday for failing to “acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people” and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.

“Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation. Context matters,” the Illinois Democrat said in remarks to a conference of Call to Renewal, a faith-based movement to overcome poverty.

“It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase `under God,”‘ he said. “Having voluntary student prayer groups using school property to meet should not be a threat any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats.”

Obama, the only black in the Senate, drew national notice even before arriving in Congress last year, and has occasionally used his visibility to scold members of his own party. Widely sought as a fundraiser for other Democrats, Obama responded with a noncommittal laugh this spring when asked whether he wants a spot on the national ticket in 2008.

His speech included unusually personal references to religion, the type of remarks that usually come more readily from Republicans than Democrats.

“Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me,” he said of his walk down the aisle of the Trinity United Church of Christ. “I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.”

Obama said millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews have traveled similar religious paths, and that is why “we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. … In other words, if we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons will continue to hold sway.”

Obama coupled his advice with a warning. “Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith: the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps — off rhythm — to the gospel choir.”

At the same time, he said, “Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square.”

As a result, “I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy.”

Obama mentioned leaders of the religious right briefly, saying they must “accept some ground rules for collaboration” and recognize the importance of the separation of church and state.

Source

I’m a huge Clinton fan, even since back when he was first elected in 1992 (although I didn’t know THAT much about him back then). And it’s obvious that I despise Bush. Clinton was a truly great president and was leading us so much better than we’re being led now. But since the Bush/Gore election of 2000, Democrats and Republicans have each polarized their own parties. Except for brief unity following 9/11, the Republicans have dug themselves deeper into basing their politics on religion (namely Christianity, of course) and Democrats have been trying to build off Bush’s unpopularity by trying to be everything that Bush isn’t, while the gay rights movement has gained so much momentum.

It just keeps getting worse and worse — like poison ivy. The more you scratch it, the more it itches. It’s becoming taboo for a candidate to endorse a principle generally favored by the other party.

That’s why Obama is so refreshing. Ever since he came on the scene during Election 2004, he’s been championing the cause of bringing the parties closer together again, working together for a better America. He was on the cover of Newsweek’s “Who’s Next” issue in the last week of 2004, with the headline “Seeing Purple.” He’s made so many good points, but what’s most significant is that he’s a Democrat critical of the current state of the Democratic Party, rather than attacking Republicans, as most Democrats are doing nowadays.

You know, things are getting so bad in America that sometimes I wonder if this is the beginning of the end of our empire. Save splitting the country in half, neither party is going to convince the rest of country to side with them. (Although fuckthesouth.com does make quite the case for splitting the country in half.) We have to be humble enough to admit our shortcomings and see the big picture, and Obama is doing that.

As for him possibly running for president in 2008, my opinion on that is that he’s just a junior senator and doesn’t have quite as much experience as would be ideal. A junior senator seems better-suited to be the running mate. However, Obama has such a well-defined presence and grasp of reality that I wouldn’t want to see him in the background, whether it’s for Hilary or someone else. John Edwards was a junior senator when he ran for president in 2004, and while his charisma (too much charisma and not enough original substance, in my opinion) and ideals shot him to the top, he didn’t have that X-factor that could catapult him into being a serious candidate for president that the entire country could get behind.

(While I liked him very much as a politician, my caveat with him was that he used to be a lawyer who represented people getting ridiculously huge settlements — like several million. I remember that he once represented a man who originally was awarded a few million after suing a doctor for malpractice, then Edwards fought for the money to be raised to several tens of millions. Is that necessary? Does somebody REALLY need THAT much money? I think that our legal system needs to be overhauled because lawsuits that large are crippling our cities, our schools, our doctors….Fairfield University recently had to award $100,000 to a kid who did nothing but cause trouble, thanks to the legal system. I could write a whole entry about lawsuits, but not today.)

But if there were ever a junior senator that HAS that X-factor that could make him an ideal candidate for president, it’s Barack Obama. He HAS IT, whatever IT is.

Although I yearned for Kerry to win the 2004 election, I had a little inkling in the back of my mind that he wasn’t the ideal Democratic candidate. And even if it cost us the election, it would be better to wait four more years and get a much better Democratic candidate. Is it Obama? I believe so. It’s certainly not Hilary — while I like her very much, she’s too disliked by too many people.

Keep watching this guy. He’s going to do a lot of good things.

All that being said, what struck me most about this article was the fact that Obama is the only black person in the Senate. I knew there weren’t a lot, but only one?! Jesus. (And whatever happened to Carole Moseley Braun?) I’m not sure if there are any Hispanic or Asian senators, but I do know that there’s a Native American (Republican) senator from Colorado. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

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