Wednesday, July 28, 2004The First African-American President?
I have once again been spending the night watching the main speeches from the DNC: Howard Dean, Ron Reagan, Jr., and Teresa Heinz Kerry. I think I'm in love with Teresa; that's my kind of woman: smart, funny, wise, and not taking any shit off anyone. May she remain that way once she's esconced in the White House and taking the full brunt of endless Republican attacks.
But the killer speech of the night was given by a new guy, Barack Obama. He's running for the Senate in Illinois this year (he's the one who's all but a shoo-in since the Illinois Republican Party imploded after the Jack Ryan scandal), but I gotta say, if he keeps on like this, I think he's got as serious a chance at the presidency as any black man has ever had. He's good-looking, charismatic, a high-energy speaker (potentially even better than Clinton), eloquent, passionate, and has all the potential that a new, unspoiled political prospect always has. And he's got a hell of a story behind him; that alone is political gold.
Since he's so new to the game, his stand on the issues is still a little vague, but there's time to fill in the blanks. What I see so far, I like. And obviously it'll be a while before we see how far he can really go. But the day has to come when we have somebody other than an old white guy in office, and Obama's got the goods.
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation -- not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is the true genius of America -- a faith in the simple dreams of its people. The insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America. There's not a Black America and White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.
But I've got news for them, too.
We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In the end, that's what this election is about.
Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?
(Read the transcript here; watch the speech here.)
That's what I'm talking about; that's what we want to hear. I'm telling you, I've got chills.
In spite of my reservations about the direction the Democratic Party is moving in, I'm feeling pretty good about the convention so far; it's low on the negative stuff, and big on an expansive, generous, inclusive America. Don't get me wrong: people are pissed off. But they're not stewing, they're coming up with ideas for ways to repair all the damage we've taken in the last few years. I know, of course, that energizing the base is what these conventions are all about, but getting the base excited is very necessary for the Democrats this year; we have a big (but imminently doable) job ahead of us.
So yeah, I'm digging it.