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When Senator Barack Obama spoke in Berlin on July 24, he showed he clearly understood that feelings can motivate an audience. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate spoke about walls and bridges in lofty generalities to inspire emotion in his audience.

Still, words matter.

In speaking about walls, Obama said “walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic” and between “the countries with the most and those with the least” must come down. So should walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants, and Christians, Muslims and Jews.

As our president, what would Obama do? What should the people do?

One take on Obama’s moralistic preaching is we all should forgive our neighbors’ trespasses. We are to share with our neighbors in need and accept all peoples as our equal no matter the differences. His cheering crowds possibly had these thoughts in mind.

However, another interpretation could be the United States must bend to Europe’s liberal ways and succumb to the United Nations as the world’s ultimate authority. The United States is to aid in equalizing the world’s wealth by means contrary to democracy and the free market.

Obama also spoke of bridges, “new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic.” With the world listening, Obama remained silent as to any meaning to his rhetoric.

The same was true when he said it was time “to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

What new global bridges is Obama talking about? Will I like them? Will the people have any choice in them? And if Americans are to participate in some “shared sacrifice,” what will we sacrifice and for what reason? Americans deserve answers before voting.

Without Obama giving details, I get an ominous feeling. Saying Obama scares me may not be too strong. With Obama as president, our country could be like a train heading full speed down the track toward a wall, not a tunnel with a light at the end.

When Obama spoke on his recent trip to Europe and the Middle East, I didn’t see pop culture figures as did Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. Instead, I saw images of charismatic leaders from history who wowed the people with patriotic pomp and the people blindly followed.

The American people deserve better.

Our nation’s physical bridges are an obvious symbol. We have a real necessity that Obama and McCain make plans for maintaining them. Aug. 1 marked one year since the Interstate 35 West bridge spanning the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed at rush hour. Thirteen people died and 100 others were injured. The most recent AP poll showed our nation’s infrastructure hasn’t improved.

Let the candidates show their leadership and plans to fix them. Once they get the hang of it on this relatively easy topic, let both candidates tell the people their plans for the economy, the war, energy and options to help families thrive.

America’s strength is its people. More, not less, of the people’s money should stay with them. Government should be limited, individual freedoms plentiful, borders secured and our nation’s military strong. We should be free from foreign dominations in natural resources and business holdings.

As Americans select their next president, silly or sniping TV ads won’t help. They are entertainment, at best. Instead, candidates must take responsibility to share their serious ideas with voters before Election Day. A visit to each candidate’s Web site may help.

Even there, however, the people need to be vigilant. While feelings motivate, concrete plans hold the most value to understanding a candidate’s vision for America’s future.


Source: Daily Camera Aug. 10, 2008, under “Where is the pith behind the pomp?”


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