Thursday, April 27, 2017

On Obama's $400,000

A few weeks ago, Michelle Obama wore her natural black hair. Black women had been waiting for Michelle Obama to wear her natural hair for eight long years. Her decision to wear her natural hair, show off her curls, is a defiant statement for black women who have to straighten their hair when they work in professions dominated by white people. It turned out the story about Michelle Obama's hair wasn't quite what everyone wanted it to be, but the image is still there for everyone who wants to believe.

This week, it was announced that Barack Obama would get $400,000 for giving a speech to Cantor Fitzgerald. Barack Obama is no different than Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush. He wants to make money and the ex-presidency is one hell of a business. Still, you do wonder why a guy who is getting tens of millions of dollars for an upcoming memoir and who could spend the rest of his life couch-surfing with the likes of Richard Branson and Jay Z would need an extra $400,000. I'm not an expert on corruption and if I started to complain about Wall Street I would sound as inarticulate and childish as a campus radical. I'm an average, intelligent voter who thinks we need more regulation of our finance industry in order to avoid another Great Recession. I think the Democratic Party has not passed these regulatory measures because it is too close to Wall Street, as can be seen from the continued prominence of Chuck Schumer. There are many people who agree with me. Some of those people are middle-class and working-class voters who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Barack Obama's payday may not make things any better or worse for Cantor Fitzgerald, but the optics are terrible.

Barack Obama has a responsibility now. He is one of the best candidates to serve as a moral guide through the horrors of the next few years. Elizabeth Warren may be the Democratic Party's 2020 candidate, but Barack Obama could set up a shadow government in his D.C. home, hold meetings with Party members, activist groups, any and everyone who could help the Democratic Party rebuild. In order to hold that position, or something like that, he needs to maintain if not absolute moral purity, at least some form of decency. Ex-President Barack Obama has to be better than Ex-President Bill Clinton. The times demand it. And if he avoids that job, he is irresponsible, a parent who has neglected his children.

It's not that hard for Michelle Obama to wear her natural hair. It won't be that hard for her to speak more truth on race issues than she did as First Lady. It may be a little hard to say no to earning more for an hours' worth of work than the average American makes in eight years. It's the kind of sacrifice a true leader has to make.

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