Talib Kweli: Why I Support Barack Obama

It is the last year of the Bush administration and thank

God. I usually rail against being described as simply "political

rapper", and I haven't voted since Bill Clinton first ran for President. I

was following the tradition that Black Americans have had of voting for

democrats since we got the right in 1964 (temporarily). Then, Clinton, as

presidents go, seemed better than Bush Sr., but I did not like his policies in

Sudan or the constant bombing of Iraq.

I also did not like the way our government dragged us thru the Lewinsky

scandal. I felt betrayed by the system, and I stopped voting, no longer

accepting of the lesser of two evils. I knew the two party system was designed

to fail us. I knew that politicians must lie for a living, because it would be

impossible to make good on their promises. I knew about the lobbyists and the

PAC. I did not make it my issue, but if someone asked me, I would explain why I

didn't vote.

Most of the time people talked to me like I lost my mind, but every once in

awhile someone understood. I knew that our ancestors fought and died for the

right to vote, but I didn't feel like voting for the lesser of two evils in a

broken system was the proper way to honor them. It was pageantry, and I wasn't

with it. I wasn't with Vote or Die, because I knew that voting itself, with no

real knowledge of who is paying these candidates to run million dollar-a-day

campaigns, is far from a revolutionary act. I haven't even started to talk

about the Electoral College that they taught us about in grade school. In this

republic, delegates’ votes are counted, and states with more land have more


You can technically have more votes, but lose the election. When the verdict is

in question, the Supreme Court decides, as they did when Al Gore clearly won

the election but lost due to bipartisan bullshit. The bankers of the world pay

our politicians, and often tailor laws and regulations to line their own

pockets. I have often stated that I cannot participate in a system that not

only is designed to see me fail, but corrupts itself as well. 

This was all before Barack Obama threw his hat in the ring. I, like many,

appreciated his effort from the sidelines, watching him do the dance on the

news. I found myself relating to him and enjoying hearing him speak, but I

still remained distrustful of politicians in general. I felt like I could serve

my community in many ways on a grassroots level that proceeded politics. I

started to see the Obama campaign doing that grassroots work. I hear him

speaking about poor people, the environment, things that I haven't heard from

politicians who have electability.

My criticism of the political system is that it siphons out rational thought

because who have to be all things to all people. You can't stand for anything doing

that. I remember when Obama spoke out against the war, early. I think the time

he spent as a civil rights attorney on Chicago's south side gives him a unique

perspective. I often hear about his lack of experience, but his experience is

one that I most closely identify with. I'm not saying I could be president, but

I am saying that our government could use a new energy. In order for a

revolution to happen, you need revolutionary writers, soldiers, teachers,

poets, musicians, garbage men, cab drivers, politicians, across the board. Everyone will not always agree, but the

things we agree on, we should strengthen. When I was younger, none of this

really mattered. Now I have two beautiful children, and Barack Obama is an

incredibly positive influence on them. I want them to know they can be anything

they want. 

With that said, I still feel the same as I do about the political system, and

one man can't change it. But this man deserves our support nonetheless. I

appreciate what he's doing, and there comes a time in history when change is

necessary for all of us to prosper. I can't be critical of a society that is

scared of change, but be stubborn in my ways for the sake of it. I support

Barack Obama and encourage others to take a real look at his campaign so they

can come to their own conclusions. I am not delusional about what the office of

the president represents, but my support for him is just that, support for

someone speaking my language amidst an ocean of doubletalk. Thank you for you


Talib Kweli, MCEO, Blacksmith