Will the Democrats finally get it right this election cycle? If the Democratic National Convention is any indication, I'm allowing myself (just a little) to think that this time they will not snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.
The convention could have hardly gone any better. From the truly inspirational speeches by Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden to the (risky) open air performance at Mile High Stadium (I refuse to call it Invesco Field) to Barack's "meaty" and pointed accepted speech last night, they showed they just may have figured some things out.
I wrote a post a few days ago complaining about politics as usual and I stand by that. I wish we didn't have that. But, I also wish we didn't have to have a national defense. Just wishing that were the case doesn't make it so. Obama knows that if he just keeps sitting back playing defense, McCain will keep throwing unanswered punches. Last night, Obama showed that, for the good of the country, he will throw back.
I think his speech was a brilliant mixture of the hope and rhetoric that has attracted his rapid, maniacal supporters, a detailed outline of his plan for policy and a very controlled condemnation of the current administration and John McCain's undeniable ties to it and insistence on continuing with its worst policies. He gave a nod to Martin Luther King's "We Have a Dream Speech", but he did not allow himself to be framed as the "black candidate". He packed a lot in to a short speech and did it brilliantly and with respect for John McCain's service, patriotism and sincere desire to do what is best for the country.
There was so much good in the speech that it's hard to pick out one thing. But, as I listened to the analysis last night the pundits seemed to look over what I thought was the most powerful counter to the Celebrity/Messiah thing:
And you know what it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington. But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's
been about you.
For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown
what history teaches us that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
This is something Obama needs to repeat over and over again. "It's not about me. It's about you." Obama is the people's champion. Our surrogate. He is the guy we chose to take on the establishment.
Surely, the comparisons others made to Lincoln will be criticized. But, the parallels are there. They are facts. Undeniable, indisputable facts. They have about the same amount of experience in the same situations, are both truly inspirational speakers and seem to have the same heart when it comes to uniting America across the lines that divide us. Chew on that Grand Oil Party!
The Republican attack machine will surely spin the grandeur of the speech into an all sizzle no steak thing. But, they run a risk with this, IMO- insulting the thousand and millions of Obama supporters as being easy dupes. You've got to ask yourself why a Junior Senator we had never heard of four years ago can fill a football stadium with over 80,000 people and a Senior Senator, war hero with so many decades of service is struggling to attract 10,000 people to his announcement today in Dayton. Could it be because one is offering hope while the other is offering security (IOW- selling fear)?
The other days someone said people vote a candidate like them, only smarter. I couldn't agree more and I see myself in Barack Obama (not that I am any Barack Obama). He's idealistic. He believes in the best in humanity. He wants to see a level playing field for everyone and thinks government's role is to protect those who cannot protect themselves while allow market forces to do what market forces do best. He thinks we should negotiate first but use force when necessary. He's about to show that to Senator McCain. You wanna play rough? C'mon. I think he's smart, sincere and tough and I hope he continues to show that over the next couple of months.
I think the Democrats did a great job of framing what this election will be about. The choice this year will be very clear and that is a good thing. For the next 66 days, I'll be praying America chooses wisely. I know where my vote is going.