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YES HE DID!: A faithful Barack Obama makes history under the lens of doubtful values-voters, now what?

When Barack Obama became president some right wing conservatives (who back then were called values voters) bucked tradition and tried somethng new.  Many Republicans wer enot satisfired with his win and there was a clear divide along racial lines.  Yet, the nation soon came together and gave the Illinois Senator a chance.  President Donald Trump received over 80 percent of the white evangelical vote facing a similar dynamic.  Once again the race for president was determined along racial lines. A 2008 article details the tone of Obama and the nation when he persisted, by faith to bring the nation together.  Perhaps, there are lessons that can be applied today to heal a racially polarized nation.


By Mona Austin
The impossible dream is now a fresh reality: Barack Hussein Obama, a Black, democratic, liberal Christian has become our nation's 44th president and the race wasn't even close.  

In retrospection, I decided to chronicle an aspect of the president elect's incredible nearly 2-year journey: his remarkable display of faith while his character was under fire.

Mr. Obama, the son of a White American mother and Kenyan father,  ascended to the highest seat in the land with a campaign run off hope's audacity, charisma, an expertly executed game plan and unprecedented billion dollar by-the-people-for-the-people fundraising strategy.  

Imbued with faith and a vision for change, he stoicly pursued the unifying "yes we can" motto  that compelled people of every race, religion, color and creed to, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, judge him by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.

Deliberately, on the same date that Emmit Till ( a black teen who had allegedly whistled at a white woman) was killed and Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his 'I Have a Dream Speech' 40 years in advance, "with gratitude" the now former Illinois Senator accepted the nomination for president of the United States. 

The spectacular star-spangled fireworks that flew overhead in Denver's Invesco Field after the speech would not compare to the downpour of negative attacks that would fly over the next 2 months.  

John McCain's next-day announcement of a nationally unrecognized,  female running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, guaranteed plenty of "patriotic" drama. 
Obama, 47,  quoted the scripture, "Hold firmly, without wavering to the hope you confess" in conclusion of  the acceptance speech.

Indeed, Obama would need those inspiring words in the fight ahead to surmount both political and personal hurdles he encountered.

His road to the White House was paved with deep skepticism from some Christian voters motivated by their faith who doubted his "true" affiliation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ based on some unlikely associations in his personal life, such as his controversial Ex-Pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, an anti-war activist from the 60's and 70's who once served time for bombings. 

He also tried to scathe off rumors he was Muslim due to his Middle Eastern middle name and photos of him in traditional African garb that looked to some like Muslim clothing.  Speculation did not cease even though he severed ties with his pastor and reassured the public he is a born again Christian.

As the race progressed, the issue of religion became of growing interest.  Both McCain and Obama answered questions about their faith from Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California during a nationally televised faith forum.  McCain's direct anti-abortion, anti-same sex marriage stance resonated well with the audience.  Obama's responses were perceived as more philosophical than biblical.

And if Obama was a "real Christian," he was a cocky, over-confident one a McCain attack ad implied.  The popular ad spoofed Obama as the Great Messiah that showed the late Charleston Heston as Moses in the famous scene from the classic movie "The Ten Commandments:"

"It shall be known that in 2008, the world shall be blessed," the announcer says sarcastically. "They will call him: The One."
"Behold His mighty hand," Moses roars as the Obama for President seal appeared.
"Barack Obama may be The One, but is he ready to lead?" asks the announcer.
Obama's team saw this coming.  

     Early in his campaign for the U.S. presidency, Sen. Barack Obama faced head-on the idea that Republicans have a monopoly on God.  Faith and family became central to Obama's appeal to convince the doubtful that his party is a party of faith too as tauted by Howard Dean: 

"Contrary to partisan rhetoric," Dean asserted in a speech, "the truth is that Democrats are people of strong faith and we are guided by our values." 

     At the Interfaith Gathering that officially kicked-off the Democratic National Convention, CEO, Leah Daughtry told media there was no need to bring faith to the democratic party because it has always been there.  The theme was "Faith in Action."
While Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Obama's running mate is a pro-choice Catholic whose beliefs never became central to the discussion of religion in this race, his counterpart Sarah Palin's religious views helped land her the position.

Sarah Palin in an address to the graduating class of commission students at her one-time church, Wasilla Assembly of God asked them to pray about the war: ". . . to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." 

In Alaska Palin was a radical reformer with a high approval rating who placed God and country first.  

Governor Sarah Palin was just the ammunition McCain needed to energize the Republican base in his area of weakness -- being unappealing to traditional Evangelical Conservatives.

Her "righteous indignation" was a force to be reckoned with as Palin became a national sensation overnight. 

Soon it was apparent that Palin’s values and views were juxtaposed against Obama's, and this pick, deemed a "God-send" by conservatives, would cause Obama not only to waver, but to knock him sqaurely out of the lead in the polls for a short while.

Neither gaffes, a pregnant teen-aged daughter, being accused of having the attitude of a Diva, nor speculation about infighting with McCain advisors would throw her off track.  What's more, she became more dominant in the media often leaving McCain in her shadows. 

It would appear that there was only one ticket for values voters: McCain/Palin.

Meanwhile, Obama remained level-headed, steadily on message, refusing to acquiesce to the opposition's mud-slinging shenanigans that the public had already grown tired of.  Issues, they begged of the candidates on blogs and in opinion polls, Focus on the issues.  

Chief among the issues was a deflated economy.  Obama reminded the American people that his opponent said the economy was "fundamentally sound" when in fact, experts from Capital Hill to Wall Street said the country was on the verge of an economic meltdown.

Obama attracted people with clear solutions in response to the areas most Americans were concerned about: a flood of foreclosures around the nation, mounting job losses and sky-high gas prices, which somehow dulled the impact of personal moral choices. 
    
According to polls the prospect of an Obama/Biden win was conceivable. 

Then all of a sudden in his personal life, on the eve of the election Obama's hope came crashing down. He would have to hold on to faith just a little tighter as he was informed that Madelyn Payne Dunham, 86, his  "grandma", who had helped raise him, passed away from cancer in Hawaii.  His mother died of Cancer years before and never lived to see his political career take form. But his grandma had witnessed it all--except his victory, turned bittersweet by her passing.  He cried as he reflected on what she meant to him, but never wavered.

Millions of Christians activated their faith on Tuesday, November 4, 2008 with the election of Barack Obama, breaking the 8-year stay of arguably ineffective Christian Conservatism in the White House.  

There Mr. Obama stood in Chicago's Grant Park, poised in contrast to some of the pain in the visage of the park's and America's history.  It was the site where anti-war protesters once faced angry hoses and riots broke out during the 1968 Democratic Convention. 

Surrounded by over 150,000 elated Americans who dared to dream with him, many in tears, he said these unforgettable words: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where anything is possible. . .tonight is your answer."

Along with this win, while many states in the Bible Belt chose McCain, 3 historically red states turned blue Tuesday night -- Virginia, Florida and Ohio -- signaling a new era of leadership and expectation has begun. 

Like many public servants and career politicians, McCain and Palin may have felt called to do the job, but the McCain ad was right-- Obama is the chosen one, unequivocally.  How he leads remains to be seen.

Now the  true test of faith, for those Christians who did not select Obama is will they accept the reality that God can reach across the aisle to do anything and will they follow the leader that has been set before one nation under God? 

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.
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