Letter to the Editor : Voting for Obama

Sunday, October 19, 2008
Dominion Post, Morgantown, WV


When integration came to Morgantown Junior High, I knew my life had been enriched. To my good-fortune, a young African-American, Charles Blue, and I were placed in the same eighthgrade homeroom. That year, “Chuck” led our homeroom to the eighth-grade championship in allaround sports. Best of all, I had gained a dear, honorable friend for life. Another African-American, Charolotte Johnson, tried out for cheerleader that year. Her “tryout” was a song and dance number that went something like: “Strawberry shortcake, huckleberry pie, let’s all cheer for Morgantown Junior High.” She won in a landslide. Charolotte’s wonderful innocent spirit infected all students and teachers who were fortunate to see her try-out that day.
The turmoil and racial violence percolating in the ’50s exploded in the ’60s. But as a sophomore at WVU in 1960, I got to watch the great running back Ernie Davis lead his Syracuse football team to victory against the Mountaineers, and contrary to the recent film, “The Express,” I witnessed none of the violent racist actions seen in the film. Needless to say, it is dismaying to see West Virginians portrayed in such a deplorable light.
Today when I hear crowds at John McCain’s campaign stops disparaging Barack Obama with shouts of “terrorist,” “kill him,” “bomb him,” “Arab,” “uppity” (which in the dark days was often followed by the “N” word), and “elitist,” I am unfortunately reminded of the mobs of the sixties. It seems to me that the McCain campaign, to say the least, is pandering to racism — dangerously so. West Virginians did not hurl racial invectives or throw garbage at Ernie Davis in 1960.
They are, however, familiar with stereotyping. They know all too well the words, “hicks,” “uneducated,” “inbred,” “hillbillies” and “white trash.” Educators at all levels in West Virginia have worked hard to give all children in the state a good education. Will these children be called “elitist” because they dare to aspire? We want our leaders to be smart and well-educated.
Pete Seeger, a Harvard drop-out, has an admirable ability to elicit a sense of hope about the future and self. Call Seeger a folk singer, a socialist, a communist, poet, musician, story-teller or savior of the Hudson River, his credibility seems to transcend politics, philosophy or science. As a friend of his has said, “[Seeger] personifies what can happen when a human being maintains hope in adversity, restructures his thinking and helps those around him to do the same.”
Obama is helping me rediscover my hope — a hope that is not a thoughtless, carefree walk in the sun, but a hope that allows me to put one foot in front of the other, to keep going forward. He dares me to believe that together we can mend the fences of fear. He encourages us to do what West Virginians have always done, take pleasure in each other, in community, and have faith in the good part of ourselves. West Virginians have long held the strong belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political and economic rights and opportunities.
I am a white male from West Virginia, and the perception for some is that I am not supposed to want a black man for president. In that case, America, not just Obama, loses, and our country’s climb out of its decline — whether in our economy, education, medicine, science, or world prestige — will stagnate. Abraham Lincoln wanted this country to be an example of what democracy could be for the world. I believe Obama represents that best example and is the only candidate who can turn this country around. Obama has convinced me that I can trust my better angel. All West Virginians can trust their “better angels” and feel better the morning after Obama safely crosses the finish line and is elected our president. Don’t be fooled; don’t let fear get in the way. We can do it, West Virginians. Yes we can.


is a Morgantown native, who is best known as a television, stage and film actor. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 12:17 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. While you point out a growth that is needed in this country…all over this country, not just in West Virginia, I’m concerned that you project that a vote for anyone other than Barack Obama is in some way displaying a racial attitude. On the issues, I oppose an Obama presidency as well as a McCain presidency. A big concern I have with Obama is he appears to be a “gun grabber.” Take note of a published article by Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson:
    “I lobbied Barack Obama extensively while he was an Illinois State Senator. As a result of that experience, I know Obama’s attitudes toward guns and gun owners better than anyone. The truth be told, in all my years in the Capitol I have never met a legislator who harbors more contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner than does Barack Obama.

    Although Obama claims to be an advocate for the 2nd Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate paints a very different picture. While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners to forcibly confiscate banned guns. Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms and Les Baer. Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month.” The full text is available at http://www.goapvf.org

    Another disturbing aspect of his campaign is the artwork that has appeared. The tri- and bi- color election placards are reminiscent of Moa, Castro, Stalin and the like. I guess when your mother is a Marxist and your father is a Moaist, that’s to be expected.

    The birth certificate controversy is another troubling issue. Why not just show the judge the birth certificate. Yeah, he put it up on a website and then it was put under wraps and sealed until after the election. What’s the big deal? Let’s just see and hold the birth certificate!

    Another problem are the university transcripts. Still nothing from the Obama camp.

    How about the arrests in Missouri for speaking out against Obama? Politicos tell lies and half truths all of the time. Obama’s camp seems to think that citizens don’t have the same right under the 1st amendment. Bye-bye first amendment…bye-bye blogs such as this one.

    My opinion is this. If a candidate for the presidency isn’t speaking to the illegal use of the Federal Reserve, printing money at interest, using interest as debt to enslave, and speaking of democracy ( a necessary component of Socialism according to Lenin) rather than the Republic he or she, black, white, green, yellow, red doesn’t get my vote and does not deserve yours.

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