Thursday, March 20, 2008

Barack Obama - A More Perfect Union

It's late and I have to go to bed, but I couldn't rest before putting up a link to Barack Obama's most recent speech - A More Perfect Union.

Quite simply, I think it's a mindblowing speech. You know already that I'm an Obama admirer, and I've explained a few reasons why over the past couple of months.

I think this speech exemplifies just why I find him so inspiring, and why I'm so SO keen to see him win both the Democratic nomination and the Presidential election. I think he'll make a marvellous President, and I can see him helping to re-shape America over the next few years.

What is so stunning about this speech is its honesty.

Politicians don't talk like this! Politicians don't delve into "difficult" issues. They don't discuss things that some people feel uncomfortable about discussing. They stick to soundbites and platitudes. They say whatever it is that their polling numbers say the people want to hear. They don't always tell the truth (or at least they often don't tell the whole truth), and sometimes some of them even lie.

With this speech, Barack Obama is exploring the uncharted territories of truth, honesty, and openness. He's talking about the issue of race in a way that makes sense. He's looking at the issue from all sides. He's looking to understand the differing points of view of both black and white people in America - and he's spelling out not just the differences, but - more importantly - the similarities between us all.

He's been exploring these strange lands of truth, honesty, and openness for a long time now. I think that's who he's always been, and what he's always done. I say "strange" because, for a politician, these are lands rarely visited. I think this is why he's striking such a cord with so many different people - black and white, young and old, men and women, Democrats and Republicans. He tells the truth. He looks into issues that most politicians try to pretend aren't there. He is brave, and courageous.

He continues to embrace the man that is Reverend Wright, while at the same time rejecting the man's divisive words. He knows that the world is a million shades of grey, and he's not afraid to talk about them, explore them, and invite us to join him in thinking about them, and seeing them. This is a rare and precious characteristic, and one which I think would stand him in very good stead in the White House.

He also does something I've never heard a politician do before - he shines a bright light on both the media and politicians in general, by exploring and rejecting the sound bites, and the unimportant media storms in a teacup, and the ruthless exploitation by politicians of simmering inequalities and frustrations within American society. He shines the light, and shows these things for the cheap and shallow tactics that they are.

And then he suggests an alternative way.

The LA Times called it Obama's Lincoln moment:

But instead of offering a simple exercise in damage control, Obama chose to place his discussion of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright's incendiary comments in a wider consideration of race in America - and the results were, like those Kennedy achieved in Houston, historic.

The New York Times editorial, Mr. Obama’s Profile in Courage, said:
Inaugural addresses by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt come to mind, as does John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion, with its enduring vision of the separation between church and state. Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better.

The editorial in the Washington Post - Moment of Truth - begins:
SEN. BARACK Obama's mission in Philadelphia yesterday was to put the controversy over inflammatory statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his spiritual mentor and pastor for 20 years, behind him. But Mr. Obama (D-Ill.) went deeper than that. He used his address as a teachable moment, one in which he addressed the pain, anger and frustration of generations of blacks and whites head-on -- and offered a vision of how those experiences could be surmounted, if not forgotten. It was a compelling answer both to the challenge presented by his pastor's comments and to the growing role of race in the presidential campaign.

The Boston Globe editorial - Obama's history, and America's - includes the following:
That's why, as Obama said, voters have to choose. They can focus on scandal and spectacle, on who said what outrageous thing. They can focus on the racial dynamics of who votes for whom. But the truer course is to focus on building a better America, one with stronger schools, better health care, reliable voting machines, fairer taxes, strong roads and bridges, and a healthy economy.

Voters have to choose, and in doing so they should seize this chance to forge their self-interests into a new, truly United States of America.

Watch it for yourself and see what you think... I think it's a wonderful speech.



Here's the transcript

...and here's a HUGE collection of links to a whole bunch more articles and editorials about this speech from across the country.

This, to me, is why his campaign has been so powerful, and why I think his Presidency will be so effective. Because this man has a vision of A More Perfect Union, and provides both the inspiration, the will and the ways in which all Americans can achieve it - together.

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1 comments:

Jeff said...

Don't hate, but I'm voting or Hillary. Two reasons-

1. I know what to expect with Hillary, because her family has been in the White House

2. Obama has been a senator since 2005, and in the two years of his tenure he hasn't significantly changed anything for the people of Illinois (my home state). If fact besides a $100 tax rebate (which boggles my mind as it's a Republican economy-booster tactic) he's spent most of his time campaigning for President. My 'holy shit you snake' bell started ringing when he ran for Senator because even in 2004 it was obvious he was gunning for the White House.

I won't be upset if Obama wins, but I won't be overjoyed either... I don't believe that he will (and can) be productive in the first few years as President. To me he's just a politician, and I don't find his speeches inspiring... not even his infamous speech at the DNC.

Maybe I'm a cynic when it comes to politicians running for office?

I hope I'm wrong and by the end of his first term (if he wins, which seems likely) America will be in a better place. I think I'll reserve waving my Obama flag until he actually does something significant for the American people.