Barack Obama

It is hardly surprising that earlier today the “news” broke that Barack Obama’s aunt, a woman named Zeituni Onyango, has been living illegally in the United States. I mean, who hasn’t been waiting for some sort of last-minute Republican-inspired bombshell? Obama as a crackhead, perhaps? Or Obama fathering five kids out of wedlock? Maybe a dated photo of Obama with a big fat Afro, a comb sticking out from one side?

Of course, the Republicans have tried—as they always do—to come up with something REALLY juicy, and they failed. So they went with the best available bombshell—an aunt Obama hasn’t seen in two years living illegally in Boston. Insignificant. A nothing deal. Nada.

And it just might work.

You see, as much as Americans like to think this election is about jobs, the economy, Iraq, health care, etc—well, it’s not. It never has been. From Day One, the Republicans have been desperately trying to scare us into not voting for Barack Obama; into turning him into a foreign entity. It’s like that old horror movie, “Invasion From Mars,” when everyone works themselves into a tizzy as the spaceship prepares to land on earth. When the alien steps off the craft, all he wants to do is make nice. Yet the police opt to shoot him dead because, well, he’s scary. Different.

I’ve paid insanely close attention to this election. It’s become my obsession; more than sports; more than the stock market. More than anything. And I’ve never, ever, ever witnessed anything more sad and pathetic than the demonizing of Barack Obama. Every person he’s ever met with any sort of Middle Eastern tie is described as both “a terrorist” and “a close friend.” His middle name, Hussein, has become a Republican rallying cry. He is regularly—and eagerly—described as a foreigner; as an alien; as a terrorist; as a enemy combatant. I don’t mind people not voting for Obama for myriad reasons-you think he’s too inexperienced; you think he’s too liberal; whatever. I understand those. I don’t agree, but I understand.

However, there are people out there—millions of people, apparently—who simply do not want a black man as our president. It’s amazing, but true.

Personally, I think of what an Obama presidency can mean for our country. Not in terms of policy or economic stimulus. I think about what it can mean for my children, who will grow up not thinking it odd or unique or amazing that they are led by an African-American; the idea of a person of color holding the highest office will be unexceptional; just a matter of fact. They will accept him in the same way I accepted Ronald Reagen and George Bush I and Bill Clinton. As a person. As a president.

That’s an amazing accomplishment. That’s something we should be very proud of.

That’s something, I’m afraid, just might not happen.

And while I’m on a roll here, a brief thought about Sarah Palin. In short: Enough. Enough! Have we, as a nation, not learned what happens when we elect mentally unexceptional people to high positions? The cliche is right—Sarah Palin is a hockey mom. A hockey mom. Her grasping of the issues is laughable; her credentials non-existent. I don’t want a president or vice president to be dumb or average or “just like me.” I want someone better than me—much better than me.

We sit on the edge of a complex road. Let’s not screw it up, eh?