Obama Gets the Nod from a Great Jamaican

If there are any Jamaican-born Americans – or their children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren – who are wondering whether President Obama deserves a second term, take this news flash to heart:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a great American general and statesman and one of Jamaica’s most-honored sons, has endorsed the U.S. president.

General Powell (above) is a Republican and served in President George W. Bush’s cabinet. But he parts company with his party when it comes to the presidential race.

Here’s what General Powell told CBS This Morning:

I voted for Obama in 2008, and I plan to stick with him in 2012. I’ll be voting for him and for Vice President Joe Biden next month. I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.

Do you think for a minute that the General would endorse Obama if the president was – as his opponents claim – a Socialist? If you do, you don’t know Powell. He is no radical reformer. He is no “angry black man.” He belongs to a type of Jamaican I know well and respect deeply, even though I sometimes disagree with them. Conservative. Steady. They look before they leap, regard new ideas with wholesome skepticism, proceed with caution.

The words of another great Jamaican, Robert Lightbourne, have stayed with me over the years:

We interfere with established patterns at our peril. 

Lightbourne made the point a half century ago in a speech he gave as Sir Alexander Bustamante’s minister of trade and industry. I was working for the Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation at the time.

I was younger then and more impatient with the stick-in-the-mud approach of political conservatives. With the graying of my hair, I have come to appreciate the intricacies of human institutions and the complexity of  human interaction, and – as I survey the many well-intentioned reforms that have gone awry – I understand what Lightbourne was talking about.

I still prefer a progressive political path. But I have come to respect the views of moderate Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller. And Colin Powell.

Sadly, moderate Republicans are virtually extinct in American politics.

The Republicans of today, the new breed that Mitt Romney embraces, are foaming-at-the-mouth extremists who would destroy America to prove a point. They are racist and sexist, yearning for a society dominated by white males  – and justifying it with the claim that it is God’s will.

They are willing to suppress voting rights, and lie, cheat and steal to get their way. And if they cannot get their way, they are willing to see the country collapse in ruins.

To see what America’s future would be like if this breed of Republicans win control of the US government, you have only to consider the track record of Congress since the Tea Party took over the House in 2010. They have obstructed all efforts to revive the economy, totally unconcerned with the misery their actions inflict on American families.  And they almost brought the economy to a halt by blockading debt limit legislation, damaging America’s credit rating in the process.

To return America to the type of Puritanical and racially biased society from which it has taken decades – even  centuries – to evolve, the new breed of Republicans have made a pact with the super-rich. They will accept a plutocracy and bow down to an all-powerful corporate elite in exchange for a pledge to impose their theocracy.

Also on the sacrificial altar are international stability, environmental preservation, food and drug safety, consumer protection, affordable health care and the myriad other benefits of a moderate but progressive political environment.

That’s why General Powell is backing President Obama. And that’s why I am, too.

Click here to read about General Powell.