When I was a child growing up in Kansas during the Great Depression, toys were few and hard to come by. Almost all of my dolls were made by hand by my mother with leftover fabric scraps from her essential sewing. Others were passed down from neighborhood kids who had outgrown them. Recently, while discussing politics with a dear friend, one particular rag doll popped into my mind.
This doll was a unique one, I have no recollection of its origin, and I have never seen another like it. It was made of white fabric with a painted-on face and golden yarn hair, and wore a lovely dress in pale colors that denoted a degree of gentility, with hands folded across the front of the body in a demure position. While I was admiring my new possession, my mother took it from me gently, turned it upside-down, and it became a different doll, with black face and arms, with a kerchief tied about its black hair, dressed more modestly in a long gray dress with a white apron.
"It's called a 'Topsy-Turvey' doll," she explained, "turned one way it is white and the other way it's a black doll."
Now, I was a flatland country kid, had never been around black people at all and, consequently had not been exposed to any of the prejudices about them. I loved both of the dolls equally and, by simply inverting one and smoothing the skirt, I had a completely different one with which to play.
What has this to do with politics? Only that we have a real, live human being and a presidential candidate who is similarly gifted. Barack Obama is either a black man with a white man's culture or a white man with a black man's external indices. You may make your own choice as to how you view him. While the black citizens were concerned about whether he is "black enough" to earn their support, white people are made nervous about the color of his skin! But he is a man who spans the races and, as such, has a deep appreciation of the culture and the cares of both sides of his ancestry as well as a sufficient philosophical education to be able to balance the two sides of his ancestry.
No matter which view you take, he is the same man; highly educated, deeply caring, and with a family that is the epitome of "family values." He has served his apprenticeship in public service and proven his understanding of the problems of the poor and working class. As for his "experience," he has had as much as many former Presidents but he does have a strong understanding of the Constitutional requirements of the position and a dedication to fulfill them. This would be a refreshing attitude after eight years of a President who has constantly shredded that "goddam piece of paper" and violated its every provision.
But there are, and will always be, those who will look no further than the color of his skin and reject him out of hand because of it. Never mind that he is slow to anger and to judgment, that he prefers to make peace rather than war, and that he promises to restore government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Never mind that he would prefer negotiation to invasion, and that he feels that it is the responsibility of the government to assure that all citizens are able to avail themselves of decent jobs, provide for the welfare of their children and have access to needed health care.
As all of these things have fallen by the wayside under the care of the current administration, the Republicans are bellowing that we must "balance the budget and cut taxes." It is convenient for them to forget that the financial state of our government is not from pressures caused by welfare, Medicare, or any of the other standard complaints, but by the trillions of dollars that have been poured into a fruitless war that should never have begun and by the reduction of taxes on the very rich that were granted at the urging of President George W. Bush.
Obama's pledge to end the war and thus the drain on our economy and the lives of our young people is the means to the end that a lot of us want to see, and the sooner the better. All that remains now for those who would benefit the most from his presidency is whether they can overcome their inborn reluctance to elevate people of color and make their selection based on character, intelligence, and dedication to the cause of the common man. Though he has been tarred with the epithet of "elitism," he is anything but elite, having come from simple stock and knowing first-hand how difficult it is for a child from a humble background to get a good education in life, regardless of color. Bill Clinton told us, "I feel your pain," and we turned out in droves to offer him our votes. This is a young man who has already walked in our shoes and we should all do the same for him.
This is a peaceful man and slow to take umbrage but with the resolve to stand firm on principle and would make a real guardian of our national security as it becomes necessary. As Obama nears the mark of actually becoming the Democratic candidate, the choice will be simple. We must vote for a man who will continue the Bush program of strike-first-and-ask-questions-later-and-damn-the-expense, or for a man who will involve himself in discussion to resolve the differences with other nations and conserve our resources to provide the needed services for the beleaguered American public. The choice is clear that this nation has had enough of the Neo-Con aggression.
I would advise that, if you find color to be a problem, you just turn the dollie over. It will be the same doll but the change in your point of view will make you feel better. Otherwise, you will have at least four years to regret the choice that you made for all the wrong reasons.