As I began to read former President Obama’s 3rd book, A Promised Land, my adoration of him flooded back again. Having read both Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope before I voted for him, I knew his writing voice well. He is a storyteller, as am I. But this isn’t my favorite thing about him, not by a long shot.
The only president I’ve ever had the privilege of voting for twice, Barack Obama is a man of good character. That is saying something in this day and age. When you toss in that he’s a politician, that moral fiber quickly becomes something of a miracle. When he was in office, I had a quiet confidence that he would never intentionally sell any of us down stream for a buck fifty deal – unlike his successor. I was at peace as I watched positive legislation being passed, again and again.
When he was in office, I heard my fair share of Black Americans complain he wasn’t doing enough. That was hard for me to process. I felt like I knew what he was up against. An embarrassing number of white folks had let their racism flag fly high when he was elected. Suddenly, people who had been friends weren’t so fun to be around anymore. It was twice as bad in Congress. There were far too many representatives who made it their priority to destroy his legacy before he even began. It was grueling to witness. I didn’t understand why this wasn’t obvious to everyone.
Because I had read his books, I knew what his healthcare plan was. I also knew what we got in the end was nothing like what our president had intended. Obama’s greatest fault during his presidency was trying to play nice with the others in the sandbox. What our president may not have realized was that few of them were worth half of him. These congressmen and senators only cared about annihilating his agenda. They didn’t care who they had to hurt in the process.
Former President Obama was wise enough to see the full weight of his presidency. He knew, as did I, that the world was watching the first Black American president closely. Our president couldn’t come out with guns blazing. Why? Because, we wouldn’t have Kamala Harris taking the VP office in January. If Barack had in anyway intimidated the public, due to their already racist biases, it would have set back the Black community a hundred years – maybe more.
As I began President Obama’s A Promised Land today, my eyes grew wet before I finished the preface. Two pages into the first chapter, I was misty again. How anyone can take the time to know this man’s heart, and think he was or is anything other than a blessing to the American people is beyond me. We’ve been through hell in 2020. Lost more Americans than in several wars combined. It would’ve been very different on his watch. He had already set up the appropriate team to combat just such a pandemic. That same group was dismissed by 45 soon after he took office. Maybe now, some of those folks who didn’t think Obama did enough while in office can reflect on how much progress was made. We, the public, are grossly unaware of how much of a burden the presidency carries. It is something we should spend more time learning about.
Too many presidents take the position for power and prestige instead of making America better. President Obama did not. His intentions were true and righteous. His decisions were made in the best interest of the country and its citizens. A Promised Land will explain much of that as it covers his presidency. I’m digging back in now. I imagine when I’m finished reading it, I will appreciate him even more. I’d better grab a hankie before I delve in again. I always was a sucker for a good story.