Thursday, February 14, 2008


African American politicians who first ran for mayor in the nation's big cities in the 1960s and 1970s and won suffered a lot of backlash after being elected.

That backlash was primarily from African Americans, but it included others as well.

The problem was simple. The energy and excitement about a Black person occupying a major political office, generated extremely high expectations from the citizenry in terms of what could be accomplished.

If Barack Obama does indeed win the Democratic Presidential nomination and the the presidency of the United States, he will have to make good on the hope generated throughout the country. He claims his broad-based coalition will do that. I hope he is right. If not, (e.g., if there is too much White or Republican opposition), even if Obama tried as hard as possible, history suggests he will be blamed for the failures (similar to how current Democratic leadership in Congress is blamed in polls for the alleged lack of responsiveness to solve items on the agenda voters are said to have elected them to solve in November 2006).

Although it would not entirely be his fault, (he doesn't give people high expectations, they create them for themselves), as the saying goes - "the buck stops at his desk."

As an Obama supporter and a political junkie, I hope his campaign is beginning to theorize and strategize about how to combat this potential backlash.

It is so endearing how Obama has managed to raise people's hopes in America again, I just hope (no pun intended) that his efforts, when President, are successful. And if not, that he is in a position to avoid history's hint.

At the end of the day, Obama has already done more inspirationally for this country than most could have imagined. We owe a debt to him and his vision for that. However, for the sake of his future success as a Black politician working on behalf of ALL Americans, it is my strongest wish that the high expectations he has played a part in generating are, first, still believed to be possible, yet at the same time, I hope supporters are prepared for the moments when it will not be.

Believe me, the opposition is.

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