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Charles Karel Bouley

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Time for a Great Orator to Become a Great President

Posted: 01/21/2013 3:47 pm

Say what you will -- the president is a brilliant orator.

He made me cry. Yes, as I sat watching the inauguration on the iPad, CNN wasn't the only thing streaming... tears down my face were also in a constant flow.

Because politics is, in fact, personal. All politics -- no one's heartburn is like your heartburn, as they say.

I've been gay ever since I can remember. And to this day, I get hateful emails, called names, disparaged because I'm a public figure who is out and proud. Die of AIDS, wear a target on your back so I can get you in my sights next time you're out, your parents must be ashamed... on and on the comments, as recent as after last night's show on KGO San Francisco in which I talked gun control and received an email saying queers like me should be shot with any kind of gun. Yup, I still get the hatred.

And as an entertainer, even in the era of Modern Family, let me tell you, the New Normal, well, isn't. Radio still fears me in many markets, asking me to NOT bring up the "gay" thing and just stick to topics, be more like Anderson Cooper -- not a flag waver, you know? Subtle... well, I'm many things, but subtle I'm not.

So when the president is listing off famous civil rights battles in his speech, and I hear the word "Stonewall" (the modern-day birth of the GLBT rights movement when drag queens and others refused to be arrested and rioted), a sense of pride, a sense of inclusion took over. And when he just flat-out says the words "gay" and "equality" in the another sentence about how all people are created equal, well, that's it, I lose my cookies.

Why? Because since my first time voting in 1980, no other president, including Bill Clinton, has done so. And the bully pulpit carries a lot of weight. When a president says it, people listen. The tone of the dialogue changes.

I could rip him apart. He talks a good talk but doesn't introduce any serious legislation, on and on... and maybe another day. But today is a good day, and we must take them where we can get them.

I can only imagine what the 21-year-old, or 30-year-old gay man, lesbian woman, transgendered youth felt when they heard it. I know at 50, it made me cry.

There are African Americans that will question his loyalty. Why is he focusing on women and gays and not his own people? Quite frankly, because the need is more urgent. There's not a state in the union that denies the rights of blacks to marry (so long as it's different gender); not one state that outlaws sex between members of the black community or refuses to let them adopt. In no state can one be fired for being black, but in more than 25 a gay person still can be fired simply for being gay.

And while neither community -- black or gay (or Hispanic or others) -- has the equality that the Constitution promises, the GLBT community, for all the progress, still is sadly lagging behind.

So thank you, President Barack Hussein (I'm not afraid of his middle name) Obama. You did more today in one speech than most have in a lifetime. Because you made me, for once, feel like an American that should, and will, one day be treated equally under the law.

Now, get to work, kick some ass, and prove you're not just a great orator, but have the makings of a legendary president. Right now you get a six out of 10 for legislating, but a 15 for great speeches. Take the passion you impart in the bully pulpit and use it to relentlessly pursue an agenda of inclusion, equality, opportunity and liberty for all Americans.

You still can be a great president. I, and America, have given you another four years to prove it. Don't let us down. We care about many issues, not just one, let's have a truly progressive agenda.

On my radio show I asked listeners to set the agenda for the next four years. What should the president do or say to the people during his inauguration, and what should he do for the next four years.

Marriage equality did come up several times. But the overwhelming amount of callers wanted the economy back; jobs, fair banking practices, taking on corporate America. In fact, much of the inaugural speech missed what a majority of people were saying on air. Global warming, unfortunately, never came up, not one caller. Green energy was not a focus. Jobs, money, fair practices from banks, Wall Street reform, going after the 1 percent, redistribution of wealth through closing tax code loopholes, the end of pot prohibition, the destruction of Citizen's United ruling and campaign finance reform through public financing, single-payer health care, expanding social safety nets not closing them... that's where the public's head seems to be, at least the many people who called to express an opinion on the show.

So there's a lot to do. The people believe you, Mr. President, are a man who can do it. They don't believe in Congress or the Senate, but they believe in you. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as Shakespeare once said.

Great speeches for a great orator are expected. We need a great president. Let's hope you can continue and rise even higher to the occasion.

 

Follow Charles Karel Bouley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thekarelshow

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