(NNPA)—There is abundant evidence that this will be a close contest between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Of course, the election is not really about race, religion or about a random celebrity or publicity quotient. This election is actually about the future of the nation politically and economically as well as the global leadership of the United States for the next four years. For many people who have already voted early or who plan to go out to the polls in record numbers on Tuesday, the campaign endorsements by various public officials does have a significant impact.
Even though former Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell explicitly stated the public policy issues and leadership qualities of President Barack Obama as the reasons for his endorsing the re-election of President Barack Obama, one of Mitt Romney’s most senior campaign officials, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, asserted that Gen. Powell’s endorsement of President Obama was based on race.
Sununu’s racially-motivated slur to attack Gen. Powell for having the political courage as a Republican statesman to endorse President Obama was not just some random rhetorical misstatement. Sununu knew exactly was he was doing a few days before the election. Sununu deliberately interjected the issue of race into the presidential campaign hoping to make a “backward” political gain to assist Mitt Romney’s ambition to defeat President Obama.
It is important to state for the record that Gen. Colin Powell not only made the right move, but also he did it with admirable courage and brilliant statesmanship. As the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State who has served Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, General Colin Powell is an iconic, retired four-star general, veteran leader and seasoned visionary admired by millions of Americans. Thus, Powell’s endorsement is important, timely and very significant. The fact that General Powell is also a moderate Republican is noteworthy and could help other Republicans and independents to see the value of reelecting President Obama.
Powell stated, “I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.” In reference to his choice of President Obama over Romney, Powell further affirmed, “I voted for him in 2008 and I plan to stick with him in 2012.” He listed President Obama’s outstanding record in effective counter-terrorism and the ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as points of strategic leadership that are important to maintain in the White House. In terms of the prospects about Gov. Romney, Powell emphasized, “There’s some very, very strong neo-conservative views that are presented by the governor that I have some trouble with… I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we’d be getting with respect to foreign policy.”
In the aftermath of Sununu’s charge that Powell endorsed President Obama because both are Black, the general’s former chief of staff, retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, candidly stated that the Republican Party is “full of racists.” Wilkerson went on to explain, “And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to with the content of his character, nothing to with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.”
We are proud of Gen. Colin Powell. We are proud of President Barack Obama. It is not about race, it is about leadership and accomplishment. Let no one make you think that this election is not important and vital to all Americans. This obviously also transcends partisan politics. Both Democrats and Republicans should be voting to reelect President Barack Obama. The old plantation tricks, divisive mischief and vile rhetoric of the past will not suffice in diverting our attention and responsibilities from pressing “forward” in 2012. We, therefore, are resolute in our expressions of recognition and tribute to General Powell’s courage on the battlefield for freedom, justice and equality. In short, we salute Gen. Powell and vote for President Obama.
(Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. is president of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Education Online Services Corp. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)