Sunday, November 02, 2008
Q+A :: David Banner On What Tuesday Means
Rapper and activist David Banner has been one of the most compelling voices on the politics of the hip-hop generation. He took some time out with us to talk about why he supports Barack Obama and what Tuesday means.

A lot of folks are talking about this election as one of the most important we've had in this generation. How are you feeling about this election?

I definitely think it’s one of the most important elections, if not in our generation, in history. I think people are concentrating too much on the fact that we may potentially have the opportunity to have a black president, but I think as important is that we actually have an opportunity to get new blood in, somebody who wasn't necessarily grown to be the president, somebody who actually is coming up from real people, who in actuality has lived a normal life and has had the struggles that ordinary people have had so in turn can understand the trials and tribulations of regular people.

Do you think that once he gets in he'll be able to take care of the issues that people haven't seen taken care of for the last 4 decades and beyond? Or do you think he's gonna be under pressures from other forces to do the same old same old?

Well, I think those pressures will always be there. It's up to the man to make the decision on what he wants to do. I think what people should also understand is that Obama potentially is coming behind the worst president in history. So that means that he has a lot to clean up also. And I think people should be patient with him and understand that he has to clean up a lot of stuff. Imagine that even if the day he came in, that he ended the war, it still would take a long time months and months if not years to slowly bring the troops back home, phase them out of Iraq. So for me, we just have to understand that he has a lot to clean up. We are in a recession, so before we can make it better, we first have to come out of it.

You've done a lot of work around the Gulf Coast, around Mississippi and Louisiana around the folks that have been affected by Bush's policies. A lot of stuff came out around race in the elections this year. Do you think Obama is going to be able to do anything about those issues or is he going to have to dial it back—be kind of a Jackie Robinson? Do you think he'll be able to deal with the issues that were left by Katrina?

Well, this is what I need America to understand. I need America to understand Obama is going to be the president of the United States. Not the president of Latino people. Not the president of white people. Not the president of Black people. So as a leader he has to do what's best for the United States. As a person who has been in a position of power, sometimes you have to make a decision as a leader, you have to tackle problems that's best for the American population as a whole. And that's what I was trying to get a lot of people to understand.

There are situations that, yes, need to be handled. But there are bigger problems right now, i.e. the war, the recession, gas prices, stuff like that. I think the best thing for Obama is for Obama to pick issues that are actually solvable and for him to start solving problems that he knows he can accomplish so people can actually see some change. I think what happens a lot of times is we have the best intentions but we try to tackle problems that are gonna take, that are bigger than us. This is my personal opinion. But I think for the American population they looking to Obama to solve some things. He should pick problems that he knows he can solve, solve them so people can see some change.

A lot of folks are talking about how the South is going to figure into this election. One of the things folks are saying that this is the election that shifts the South and I wonder if this is what you're seeing on the ground, a shift from the old conservative white Southern strategy Nixon coalition to the New South.

I definitely agree with that. But what I need people to understand is that this election won't be the end of anything. If anything, it's going to be the very beginning. People are looking at Obama as the savior. People are looking at this election as the all and all. That's not the truth and we shouldn't put that much into the election. Yes, it is a very important election. Yeah it may be the most important election in history, but it won't be anything that will change things by itself. It's just the beginning. We as Americans have to change our ways. You even look at the way that Obama is helping to change the way that the world views Americans. Obama is one of the few presidents in a a long time that's loved and adored overseas, we need that right now! But it's only the beginning. We're going to have to work hard. We're going to have to continue this process. Let's say if everyone in the South gets out to vote, Obama gets in, you know—will that trend continue? That is the important thing.

Here's a last question because it comes up over and over again in the south. What if the vote doesn't count? What if you have all of these folks of color, all of these young folks to get out and vote and they still find a way to do what they did in Florida in 2000. What then?

This is what I tell people. Number one, the popular vote was way too close in both of those elections. This is why we have to get off our ass and make sure that we all vote. If the popular vote is too close then that leaves room for people to gibble and gabble, for people to hide in the darkness and the what-ifs. That is just the reason why we have to make sure that we get out and vote and it's obvious if they do it. Like the only time that you can hide a lie is if it's a little bit of the truth. Every lie has a little bit of the truth. But if Obama blows McCain out of the water, then people just have to righteously get up and take it. Then America will definitely expose itself for what it really is. So what we have to do is make sure that the popular vote is nowhere to being close.

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