THE LAST BLACK PRESIDENT

You know what I’d really like to see? Mr. Obama is our first, and last, black President. I don’t mean that in the sense that I don’t want any other person of color to hold that office. I mean that in the sense that, whoever becomes the next President is described as an American. Not an African-American, not a Hispanic, not a woman, not a female, not Chinese, yellow, red or black, not anything other than the American citizen who was elected to represent all Americans.

Can you imagine? Mr. Obama breaks, not only the color barrier, but all barriers. The first, last, and only President of color. All others to follow are only Americans, not identified by race, creed, color, or stripe. That would truly be an achievement: electing representatives by their ability alone, instead of by some identifying characteristic. Then maybe we’d be able to get this country back on track, back to being the inspiration, the workhorses of the world.

I can understand the need of politicians to polarize, to set themselves apart from one another. They are in a competition, after all, and need to distinguish themselves from their fellow aspirants. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us need to fall for their artificial distinguishers.

Why in the world would we want to pit our children against their grandparents? The people who write our paychecks against the people who make the business successful? The people who grow our food against those who provide a market for those resources? That makes no sense, common or otherwise.

Any why is it that, when the description of a person includes ethnic origin, that the ethnic origin is listed ahead of American? People who wouldn’t recognize the shores of their “homeland” are tagged with that moniker as the first feature of their identity. I can understand the desire to not become entirely conglomerated into the melting pot that is America, that some vestige of heritage can be retained. But it already is. From language to food to speech patterns to holidays to manner of dress, the country that has assimilated millions of people has also embraced their various cultures in one form or another.

I know that I harp on this facet of our existence, but there are bigger fish to fry, people, than who offended you lately and how. All Americans, no matter from whence their forbears, have more in common with each other than they do with the people from any other country on earth, no matter how much we pretend otherwise. So why don’t we get past all of our hurts, real or imagined, and get back to the business of making ourselves useful to this little blue ball, in whatever way we can. Whining takes you only so far, and it is really distasteful when you do it from the comfort of an air-conditioned studio, dressed to the nines, hair and make-up positioned exactly so, your belly full of whatever fluff you have had the opportunity to ingest that day.

The zero sum game is a hoax. In case you haven’t noticed, the gross domestic product is currently just slighter higher than it was when this country was first begun. And even the least of the ninety-nine percent is head and shoulders above the one percent of colonial times.

So let’s stop celebrating our differences in order to revel in the injustices that we imagine our fellow Americans are out to inflict on us, and concentrate on applying ourselves. If we know that we are doing our best, it won’t matter what others say anyway. It is only when we measure our success by the adulation of others instead of by our internal meter that we get screwed up.

Right now, it seems as though we are embarrassed by our good fortune, that it is a mark of shame that we have been born into so much plenty, that we have to pretend that we are struggling, so that we do not bring down the enmity of the other peoples of the world on our heads. How about we just leap over all that, and get on the with business of saving the planet? We don’t need to be the world’s policemen; we should be the world’s innovators: bring water to the desert, food to the hungry, housing to the homeless. But we can’t do that so long as we are busy prying ourselves apart, in order to gain, what, exactly?

We should be ashamed. Not of our good fortune, but of our pretense that we have it bad. We have plenty of resources that can be exploited (and by that I mean used, not wasted) in order to better our lot. It seems that the only thing that is currently lacking is money. So, do without for a bit. Tighten that belt, and get to work. Don’t have a job? Volunteer to clean up around you, volunteer to mentor someone else, volunteer your services. Have too much student debt? Set up a payment schedule, and mow lawns. Come on, people! We are not infants. We are fully functioning, capable adults, and it’s time that we acted as such. It’s time to stop whining. It’s just embarrassing to act like we are lacking when it is perfectly obvious to the rest of the world that we have the cushiest spot on the planet.

So let’s celebrate the fact that we elected our first black President, then judge him solely on how well he is doing his job of upholding the Constitution and protecting our country from threats, both domestic and foreign. Let’s not elect a Whiner-In-Chief, to catalog all the hurts that have been inflicted on us, to recite all of the problems that we face, to list all of the wrongs that have been done. Let’s elect a Commander-in-Chief, who will lead by example, shouldering the burdens that come with the job, not blaming anyone else for what has happened in the past, or the conditions that exist today. Someone who is up to the job, who is capable of functioning in that perilous position without having to appeal to our baser emotions. Someone who looks forward, not back. Someone who is an American, first and foremost.

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