18M reasons to not stop at Barack Obama

The results of the Nov. 4 election are reason for jubilation. For the first time in this nation’s history, a Black man has been elected to the highest office in the land. It is a great achievement for Barack Obama, and a testament to his intelligenc

The results of the Nov. 4 election are reason for jubilation. For the first time in this nation’s history, a Black man has been elected to the highest office in the land. It is a great achievement for Barack Obama, and a testament to his intelligence and the tremendous campaign organization he built and headed.

But the really good news is that Obama, and his organization, helped inspire and mobilize record Black turnout across the country. Some estimates put the Black vote at 18 million! Many new voters, energized voters, young voters, went to the polls Nov. 4 and found out that their vote mattered.

That is no small achievement. Eight years ago, Black voters went to the polls and found their votes stolen, subject to “chad” politics in Florida or just outright theft in other states. Some voters hung their heads and simply dropped out of the electoral process, convinced that their vote did not count. But it does count.

Eighteen million voters propelled a young Black man, with fewer than 10 years of political experience, to the White House. He didn’t have a well-known political family name behind him. He didn’t have a big national platform, and he chose to run at a time when there was a Clinton in the race, a sure recipe for defeat.

Eighteen million Black votes made the difference in states like North Carolina, which was considered a “red” state, and Virginia, seat of the Old South, which hadn’t gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964.

Eighteen million voters is power. Eighteen million voters is a movement. Eighteen million voters is the hammer that can forge the next generation of election victories and the next Black president.

Eighteen million voters can also produce the next Black mayor, the next Black congressman, the next Black senator, the Black school board or the Black county executive.

But there are eighteen million voters out there now who have seen the power of their vote. Those young Black voters who never thought anyone would listen to them are energized now. Those older Black voters who thought that they would never see this day, but they voted for it anyway. Those Black female voters who started out backing Hillary Clinton because they thought she’d have a better chance of being elected than a Black man.

They all recognize the power of the ballot today. We have to marshal that power and elect the next Barack, or William, or Aamir or Latifa.

We have eighteen million reasons to know that it is possible, and we have no excuses for believing we can’t do it. Eighteen million voters tell us, “Yes We Can!”

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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