ATLANTA — I am troubled again. Admittedly, being cursed with an aversion to ignorance creates periodic problems for many of us. The older I get, the more I understand and respect that old adage “ignorance is bliss.” Small-minded, willfully ignorant, apolitical folk don’t worry much — at least not about substantive things.
As long as they can get to the club, drink, make a little money, gossip, shop a little and find some guy or girl to screw and argue with, they’re pretty cool. The rest of us are left to deal with the tough problems — like deciding who should run the country (and actually thinking about it rather than just voting for who helped our church get a grant. Yep — I still remember that, Jesus Freaks! Go ahead — cuss! And yes, I’m smiling).
This election cycle presents a few interesting issues for me. First off, I have four acceptable candidates. That’s incredible! Dennis Kucinich is probably closest to me philosophically, but he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of even winning a primary. That leaves Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton. I wouldn’t be upset if any of the three raised a hand to take the oath in January 2009.
Sorry, there are no Republicans on my list. It’s not that none of them could handle the job; I just ideologically disagree with current strands of conservatism. I believe they are too narrow, marginalizing and past-oriented. They also fuel some of our society’s nastiest tendencies — classism, racism, religious intolerance and hostility based on sexual orientation. Let’s be real: The Republicans are in a dogfight over whom to anoint the next Reagan. I think that’s a really bad thing.
It’s no secret that I have reservations about Obama. (Shameless plug time.) You can read about them in my forthcoming book, “What’s Wrong With Barack Obama?” Don’t get your panties in a bunch, Obamamaniacs. I’m the first to admit there’s a lot right with the guy, too. At the end of the day, I just don’t think he’ll deliver the messianic performance many of you expect.
At this point, my guy is John Edwards. I like his cut. He’s tough, honest and courageous. I find his fearless approach to poverty and race, and ability to own up to his mistakes, very appealing. Ironically, his energy actually reminds me of Big Bill Clinton in the 1992 race. I say this is ironic because the current Democratic frontrunner happens to be Bill’s wife, Hillary. Herein lies my dilemma.
I just finished Bill Clinton’s 2004 autobiography, “My Life,” on audiobook. Bill actually does the reading. It’s great! I’ve always loved Clinton. Now I love him more. I remember being so excited about voting for him in ’92. I was a bit surprised and elated when he actually won and shut the Reagan-Bush machine down. He recounts this and other battles in his book. The most interesting parts, however, have nothing to do with politics. They concern his relationships with his family, friends, himself and his causes.
He is like the Biblical David — flawed, but great. Yasser Arafat even told Bill he was a “great man” as he turned down Clinton’s Middle East peace plan (which he later accepted) at the end of Clinton’s presidency. Clinton responded, “I am not a great man, Mr. Chairman. I am a failure and you have made me one.” Bad mofo.
That brings us to Hillary. My boys and I have a rule — we’ve got love for each others’ women (even if we don’t like them). With the “man-crush” I have on Bill, how can I not have love for his wife (and the idea of him as First Gentleman)? Damn, this is tough! It’s going to be a long, long process.
‘Black Jack’ returns
Thanks for all the kind words and prayers for my friend, Major Keith “Black Jack” Jackson, when he was deployed to Iraq last year. He made it back a few weeks ago. We’ve got a lot of catch-up drinking to do. Much love to the supportive Message readers!
Remember, until next time — have no fear, stay strong, stand on truth, do justice and do not leave the people in the hands of fools.
Dr. Ricky L. Jones is associate professor and chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at U of L. His LEO column appears in the last issue of each month. Contact him at [email protected]