Barack Obama’s Most Important Achievement Regardless of What Follows

I have always held in this race that while of course we shouldn’t vote for a presidential candidate based on something as skin deep as skin color, that nonetheless all things being equal in terms of character, temperament, policy proposals, principles, and priorities, that there is a crucial psychological bonus to having a black president. It is simply of too inestimable a value to send the message to the youth of America and around the world about what kind of a country we live in.

This great article is about an early fruit of this impact:

As I’ve considered Sen. Obama’s accomplishment, I’ve determined the most profound impact he’s had — not considering the possibility of him becoming president and proving to be one of our better ones — is on our future more than our present or our history.

I didn’t grasp that until I took my 2-year-old to the doctor last week and he took a vision exam. It was through young Alexander’s eyes that I saw how important this moment in time could be.

The nurse administering the exam pointed to different shapes and images on a chart, asking Alexander to identify each. One of the recurring images was that of a flag. It wasn’t an American flag, but a flag just the same.

To a 2-year-old, a flag is a flag, right? Alexander is most familiar with the U.S. flag. When the nurse pointed to the flag, he answered confidently.

“Barack Obama,” he said, pronouncing it as best as a 2-year-old could.

“What did you say?” she asked.

“Barack Obama.”

As she went through the chart, she once again came to the flag.

“Barack Obama.”

“Do you know what he’s saying?” I asked her.

“No.”

“He’s saying Barack Obama.” Why? Because he was making an association. Most times when he’s seen Sen. Obama on TV, the Democratic nominee has been standing in front of the U.S. flag.

Whether Sen. Obama wins the presidency or not, he has had an untold effect on the future and psyche of America.

My son will live a lifetime in which he knows an African-American can ascend to the highest levels in this country. He won’t think it odd for a black man to seek to lead a nation. He as well as many white, Asian, Hispanic and other children, whether they like the candidate or not, won’t think it odd or a novelty to see a black man standing in front of the American flag — the ultimate display of patriotism, despite misguided and mean-spirited efforts to paint Sen. Obama as being otherwise — articulating his concerns and love for his country.

Because of Barack Obama, many of our children won’t grow up with as many of the psychological bruises those before them might have endured.

I grew up being told that I could one day be president. But much of what I saw and heard suggested otherwise. I saw and experienced the discrimination. Blacks only secured the right to vote in my lifetime. I saw many black kids in school being steered away from advanced courses and training that would have prepared them to shoot for higher goals.

Not only does Sen. Obama’s feat help shape a 2-year-old’s thoughts about himself and the world around him, but it affects so many others, from high-schoolers to college students to older folks.

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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