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Essence election analysis from politicians, dignitaries and celebrities

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Weekly Analyst - Getting Involved in the Political Process

"Politics is not abstract. Politics are not these rules that are made up by men in suits in Washington D.C.; it doesn't work that way. If you really start to think about it, the decisions that are made in the political sphere affect every part of our lives—from what we wear, to what we eat, to what we are allowed to say, to where we are allowed to live, to whether we are allowed to vote, to whether or not we can get a job, whether or not we can afford an education, whether or not we can afford to be healthy human beings. All of these issues are political issues, so to me there is no division between choosing to be a living, breathing human being and choosing to engage in politics. If you want to have a say in how you live your life, you have to engage in the political process. Otherwise, you're letting other people make decisions about every aspect of your life."

—Kerry Washington, actress and Barack Obama surrogate

Weekly Analyst -International Relations

“Senator Obama visited South Africa last year and he came to see me in Cape Town. We had a very warm chat together about the state of the world, and the fact that so many people are annoyed with the United States for behaving like a big bully in so many places. I told him there is great potential for your country if it has the right person in the White House. Imagine if you have a person in the White House who cares about the fact that the United States could reduce its defense and security spending considerably, simply by helping to eradicate poverty. You worry about so-called terrorism, and I have said many times that one prediction you can make is that no one will ever be able to win a war against terror as long as there are conditions that make people desperate. Conditions of poverty make people desperate; conditions of disease make people desperate. So one hopes you will have a good president, and Obama seems like that kind of man who will see the world as being one community—one global village that we are all members of, that makes us all feel we belong, and that could never allow for the isolated security of just one country.”

—Archbishop Desmond Tutu, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner

Weekly Analyst - Obama's  Winning Strategy

"Senator Obama must earn the respect of all, not just Democrats. That includes those who backed Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. He must also appeal to those who are unaffiliated, Independents and Republicans. I think it's a two-step process. One, is to remind Senator Clinton voters that on issue after issue Senator Obama and Senator Clinton stand side by side with each other. I think it's important to distinguish that, with a President McCain, we get four more years of the Bush-Cheney policies on education, on energy, on health care, on tax cuts and the world around. If the voters want change, they will vote for Senator Obama. If they want to embrace the status quo, they will seek refuge with John McCain.

"Democrats must expand their outreach. We cannot win by simply trying to revive the old coalition that got us this far. We must expand the electorate, we must encourage young people to participate, we must encourage those who have not yet registered to get involved. This is not about dissecting each and every political group in this country. It's about creating a platform that appeals to the largest segment of the American people."

—Donna Brazile, Democratic political strategist and commentator

Weekly Analyst - Blacks in the Republican Party

"I was born in 1951, and most Black people during those days? especially if you had any education or affluence at all most Black people were Republicans. I grew up in a household around [my grandparents] Daddy and Mommy King, my daddy, Reverend A.D. King, and my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and all the conversation and all the voting was toward the Republican Party during those days. That did not change until the 1960’s, when my uncle was in jail, and my Aunt Coretta appealed to everyone to help her. Richard Nixon actually wanted to help, and his advisors said no. John F. Kennedy was not quickly moving to help, and his advisors said he should. He helped with a phone call to get my uncle out of jail. And there was an exodus of Blacks from the Republican Party, to the Democrats being the party of Black people. But they kind of forgot that the Republicans were the party that had been helping them. But I always say, God is not a Republican or a Democrat? he's bigger than all of that. When people squabble about whether Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Republican or a Democrat, I say, 'So what Whatever.' He was a man who loved the Lord, and that is bigger than politics.

—Dr. Alveda C. King, family values activist and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Weekly Analyst -Blacks in the Republican Party

"African-Americans have to look at how we can leverage the value of our vote to both political parties. We have for too long just given it away. At some point we’ve got to realize we’re not getting anything in return. As I look at our school system, employment and

job opportunities, we’re not gaining ground, we’re losing ground. When I ran for Senate everyone asked, ‘How are you going to deal with black issues?’ As a Republican, the expectation was I’ve got to address all these other topics. Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, these topics need to be addressed."

—Michael Steele, chairman of the (Republican) Grand Old Party Political Action Committee, and former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland

Weekly Analyst -Blacks in the Republican Party

"I thought it was a very encouraging sign when Senator McCain went and spoke to the NAACP. I think the president should have done that during the past seven years. You can't have a conversation if you don't show up. I do think there are steps we are taking. I just think this year is a unique year, because Senator [Barack] Obama is going to be a tremendously attractive figure in the African-American community. But I think things like having Reverend [Al] Sharpton at the convention making the case about education, about lower taxes, and energy prices as it relates to the African-Americans will help. I routinely ask every Republican candidate to reach out and be involved. I think it just became extraordinarily tough this year,'' he said of Republicans recruiting African-Americans. "But I would hope that, for 2010, you see a very major recruiting effort."

—Newt Gingrich is an author, political analyst, and former speaker of the House.

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