Friday, April 11, 2008

Obama on Special Interest Communities

Barack Obama spoke to Advocate Magazine recently, and made a point that I feel compelled to share. When being questioned about why he hadn't spoken to more GLBT press, as Hillary apparently has, he gave the subject a broader context:
I guess my point would be that the fact that I’m raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest that is sort of off in its own little box – that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment. Because ultimately what that shows is that I’m not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It’s easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans.
If you read the context in the article, you'll see that what he's saying is that GLBT issues, or African American, or any other special interest communities like them, are every day issues, that shape his entire outlook, and don't concern him only when he's speaking to interested press. He doesn't have to pander to them as an audience, because these issues affect everyone in one way or another, and he brings them up often.

I very much appreciated his candor and honesty when being asked the "tough" questions on topics such as gay marriage and employment discrimination. His goal is to pass these laws as they should be, but that in each of them, he will take the issues as far as he can and still have them pass, even if they're not yet perfect. He isn't coloring his words to make them believe what they want to hear, and he's presenting his reasoning in a well-thought manner.

Later in the article he talks about how to have the difficult discussions:
I tell you what -- my campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible and to go into as many places as possible, and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence. This goes back to your first question. If you’re segmenting your base into neat categories and constituency groups and you never try to bring them together and you just speak to them individually -- so I keep the African-Americans neatly over here and the church folks neatly over there and the LGBT community neatly over there -- then these kinds of issues don’t arise.

The flip side of it is, you never create the opportunity for people to have a conversation and to lift some of these issues up and to talk about them and to struggle with them, and our campaign is built around the idea that we should all be talking. And that creates some discomfort because people discover, gosh, within the Democratic Party or within Barack Obama’s campaign or within whatever sets of constituencies there are going to be some different points of view that might even be offensive to some folks. That’s not unique to this issue.
And this is how he always is when talking about the difficult issues. Barack Obama will be a wonderful change from the lying bastard election stealing bigoted racist asshole currently occupying the White House.

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