I decided that I needed to vote for Barack Obama for president because (a) all of my friends in Cambridge want to vote for him, and (b) he seems to make people feel good (like Reagan, but without the tax cuts). I thought that maybe it would be good to learn at least one thing about the guy before casting my vote, so I listened to Dreams from my Father as a book on tape.
What did I learn?
Obama’s main concerns through the period covered in the book seem to be black/white relations and preserving Rust Belt jobs and neighborhoods. As far as Obama is concerned, if you were to take an overdose of tanning pills and your skin turned dark, your whole world would be so dramatically changed as to become unrecognizable. No employer would want to hire you, regardless of your skills, experience, and education. White people would avoid you on the street for fear that you would mug them. You would sit down and write a book called “black like me” or something similar.
These are rather surprising preoccupations for a guy who hardly ever saw a black person in his household and who grew up in Hawaii, as far away from America’s Rust Belt as an American could possibly get.
So… if you think that the main problems afflicting America are how white people feel about black skin and how to keep high-paying blue collar jobs in the greater Chicago area, Obama is definitely your candidate.