Some people still speculate where President Barack Obama was born. Putting that aside, he was a “community organizer” in Chicago, in his twenties, back in the 1980s. Obama lent his skills to the low income families at the Altgeld Gardens public housing project, teaching them job skills and job acquisition acumen. The experience is said to be seminal in influencing the future President’s political understanding of his country: where it goes wrong and what needed to be done, especially, for the African Americans in this housing project.
Elvis sang about poor Chicagoans, too. The story song about the cycle of poverty was a comeback hit for The King in 1969. In the Ghetto could be seen as the squandered and hopeless prospects for the indigent absent the generosity of people like Obama: a boy turns to crime and is shot to death, just as a sibling is born likely to reach the same sad fate.
The song can be used to suggest that more than just the pursuit of happiness and freedom is required… that help, even from government, is necessary to build a citizenry with equality. It is the extent and scope of government intervention to achieve this end that forms a major debate thread in this election.
Today, Obama hopes to be granted the opportunity to continue his life’s work, with a second term in office. Good luck, Barack!
More from The King on this Blog: Heartbreak Hotel