When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, it was an historic election. The prospect of voting for America's first African-American president brought black folks to the polls who had never voted before. People voted early, stood in long lines, some were in wheelchairs or on walkers -- but the passion and enthusiasm were palpable in black communities across America.
The rights and opportunities that our ancestors marched for finally came to fruition on election night, November 4, 2008, when the votes were cast and the T.V. networks announced that Barack Obama had been elected the 44th President of the United States. Tears of joy were shed across America by young and old.
Some of us mistakenly thought that, with President Obama's election, we had finally arrived. We could take it easy and not have to press so hard for our rights to be affirmed.
We underestimated the backlash from the opposition. Those who did not vote for Obama and who thought a black man would never occupy the White House -- either through prejudice, ignorance or defiance of authority -- quickly rose up in anger and indignation. The Tea Party was formed and we've seen their influence on politics in general and the Republican Party, in particular.
In his September 24, 2011, speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, President Obama was speaking for me and to me when he said, “Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. I never promised easy. Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says you can’t stop matching.”
“Even when folks were hitting you over the head you can’t stop matching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way—you can’t stop. Through the mud and muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause-widening the circle of opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.”
It will be difficult to duplicate the magic of the 2008 campaign, but we can't afford to sit down -- you have to put on your marching shoes once again and work to re-elect President Obama in 2012! You need to not only vote, but work in the trenches to put President Obama back in the White House for four more years.
Don't be fooled. With Republican legislatures around the country attempting to make voting more difficult in poor and minority communities, the election in 2012 matters more than ever!
Here's why President Obama's re-election is important:
1. He cares about ordinary people -- the poor, middle class and those hardest hit by the recession.
2. He can keep the right-wing forces from enacting discriminatory policies and enacting more voter suppression legistration accross America.
3. He can appoint more federal and Supreme Court justices who are sensitive to the needs of blacks and other minorities.
4. The presence of the Obama First Family in the White House is an important positive symbol for our young people and others around the world.
5. America needs President Obama's continued outstanding foreign policy experience during an unstable international environment.
President Obama has instituted "Operation Vote" to make it easier for African-American communities to organize for 2012. What are you willing to do?
Here are some things you can do to help with President Obama's re-election:
1. Make sure you have the proper documents to vote by securing a state-issued driver's license or photo I.D., if you don't already have one.
2. Sign up as a voting registrar and register people to vote in your neighborhood.
3. Host a fundraiser for President Obama in your home or through one of your community organizations; and/or send a personal contribution to his re-election campaign online.
4. Post information via social media like Facebook and Twitter encouraging your friends to vote for President Obama's re-election.
5. Encourage your church or pastor to host voter registration drives.
6. Stay informed about the presidential election campaign by watching news broadcasts each day.
7. Voice you support for President Obama’s agenda and vision for this country on popular blog sites, radio and television websites, youtube, and CNN.com I-Reports.
8. Write letters to the editor or commentaries in support of President Obama and submit them to your local daily newspaper.
It will take a concerted effort from all of us to get President Obama re-elected. Put on your marching shoes and let's get to work!
Author of Screwed by Former Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer