I've been in a lot of meetings lately about Detroit and where the city is headed. Just the other day I had coffee with an influential business leader who was curious about my take on issues, and the subject of who could be the next mayor. This individual was very interested in the "written word" reminding me of what someone said long time ago that journalists have the last word in history.
Two days after that coffee dialogue I met with another political heavyweight and a supporter of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, who like the business executive wanted to know what journalists who are covering this city in the corridors of power think about all the issues going on.
As the person put it "What do you make of everything that's happening? You are among a handful of journalists in this town that I read religiously. I read everything that you guys write because it is credible."
I felt flattered that my articles garnered that much interest in the political power class.
Both but encounters left me with the impression that in part the city's current socio-economic and political evolution lies in the hands of credible story-tellers (journalists) who can convey both the pain and the aspirations of the people of Detroit.
Detroit needs tough love to get to where it needs to be. But that won't happen if we are not willing to tell the truth. No real transformation from the bottom up will take place if the media is expected to play along instead of asking the hard-charging questions.
Because journalists who have distinguished themselves as credible voices writing about this city's current chapter, as it leaps to the next have a reputation to protect in light of consistent following among readers of various political persuasions.
At the same time we cannot skip or deny the weight of history and how that has informed the current Detroit landscape. Yet that history should motivate us to demand effective leadership in every facet of the city's life without compromising the basic democratic needs of service for those who have chosen to remain in this city.
About 10 months ago I spoke at the University of Michigan Law School Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. At the MLK event some of the students from one of the nation's leading law schools confirmed that their impression about Detroit is framed by what's written in the press.
Whether what's written conveys a bad or good image it's potency is in its ability to influence people's minds just like some of the students at the University of Michigan Law School.
I challenged the students to visit Detroit, Michigan's largest city and experience for themselves what's taking place in the city.
It's one thing to buy into the hype, it's a completely different experiment to engage the city itself to determine how what it does is important to the survival of the region.
The fact that we are talking about who could be the next mayor shows why Detroit matters.
Bankole Thompson is a Senior Author-in-Residence at Global Mark Makers Publishing House in Iowa where he is writing a groundbreaking six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book "Obama and Black Loyalty" published in 2010 follows his recent book "Obama and Christian Loyalty" with a foreword by Bob Weiner former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are "Obama and Jewish Loyalty" and "Obama and Business Loyalty." He is the first editor of a major African American newspaper to have a series of sit-down interviews with Barack Obama. Thompson is also a Senior Political News Analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR Affiliate) and a member of the weekly "Obama Watch" Sunday evening round table on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
Last week many were shocked at the performance of President Barack Obama when he met his opponent Gov. Mitt Romney face to face and did not challenge him.
Prior to the Oct. 3 debate at the University of Denver some concluded that Romney would barely survive a man whose oratory and brilliance helped him to the pinnacle of American politics.
But last Wednesday we saw a different Obama who looked tired and sometimes uninterested in responding to what his opponent Romney was doing to him. We saw an Obama who appeared too presidential at his own risk forgetting that millions were watch him to see the difference between him and Romney.
Despite the fact Romney proffered falsehood and sometimes contradicting himself, Romney according to some won the debate. Because Romney appeared aggressive, and basically came to the stage looking for a fight.
On the other hand Obama looked presidential and too professorial at his own expense. His performance last week sets the stage for the second presidential debate.
But for now his performance elevated the stakes in the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan Oct. 10. Now Vice President Biden will have to restore confidence and faith in the party faithfuls as well as independents that are looking for which party can lead them in the next four years. Game is on.
On Wed. Oct 3 the world will witness for the first time President Barack Obama and the man who wants his job Gov. Mitt Romney debate the issues before millions of viewers here at home and around the world.
Expectation is building for this historic face-to-face intellectual and policy debate between the Democratic nominee Obama and the Republican nominee Romney.
This is an important event for everyone who cares about the future of the country. Because it is an opportunity to hear two different men lay out two different visions for one country they profess to love.
For those who are keenly covering the Obama presidency, and others who understand the history of presidential debates, there be will a lot of surprises. Because Obama is not only a gifted speaker as his Republican rivals are agreeing now to downplay any potential Romney stumble, but he has been tested on the national stage numerous time unlike Romney.
For voters, there will also be a lot of surprises because only one candidate will emerge Wednesday night as unprepared and unfit to command.
When Obama and Romney face each other voters will see a contrast between their intellectual and policy depth as it relates to running the country. And that is important because voters need to know who among these two men will pick up the 3AM phone call as was largely debated during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Who among these two men can address the structural economic and social problems we continue to face?
Thus it's important to hear from the candidates themselves without any filters about their plans to address the economic crisis among other important issues.
At this debate we don't expect the candidates to write the answers on the palm of their hands as Sarah Palin did in 2008 trying to second guess the debate moderator.
These are two men who have held executive offices and they bring different unique experiences. Obama has been president for the last four years.
Romney was governor of Massachusetts for one term.
So the executive experience of these two men will come to bear on the debate showing us how they will govern the nation.
Michigan has played a significant role in this presidential election including the national spotlight the state has been thrusted into.
The auto industry and President Obama's role in rejuvenating the industry has catapulted Michigan to a crucial swing state. Plus no Democrat in decades has won the White House without winning Michigan.
So we in Michigan have a stake in the debate, and Detroit in particular which has been home to the auto industry, and struggling with high levels of unemployment.
Because of the unique position Detroit is in as a major urban center and the stakes for this election on Wednesday evening, I'll be hosting the Detroit Presidential Debate Watch Live at the Detroit Seafood Market 1435 Randolph St. in downtown Detroit. The high point of this Presidential Debate Watch from 9-10:30pm will be a special pre-debate panel starting at 8pm.
The panel members are Charlie Langton host of "The Charlie Langton Show" on WXYT-CBS and Legal Analyst for Fox 2 WJBK-Detroit, Jason Smith, Political Reporter for The Grio.Com/MSNBC, Rochelle Riley, Columnist for the Detroit Free Press and Henry Payne, Editor of the MichiganView and Editorial Cartoonist for the Detroit News.
Whether you are watching the debate in your home or at the Detroit Seafood Market, pay attention to how the candidates specifically address the issues that matter to you.
Don't write off Wednesday night as another political event for Obama and Romney. It is important that you hear from them about how they will tackle issues that you are grappling with.
Your future lies in that debate.
The life and death issues we grapple with hang in the balance in this debate.
It is not just another political forum. It is about you, and you should demonstrate that with your vote.
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