I spent about an hour Thursday night watching the acceptance speech delivered by Barack Obama at the just concluded Democratic National Convention.
Tears came to my eyes. There’s no crying in politics! But there I was watching history being made – great history and the tears were tears of joy – that our long nightmare with George Bush and the evil empire might be over. Yes! Luke Skywalker was on that podium turning on his light saber and heading into battle against the Emperor and his henchman Darth Cheney.
Yes, I know Obama faces McSame but what is the real difference…. Grand Moff Tarkin was still evil.
The part that really got me was when Obama said:
That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.
We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.
These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: “Eight is enough.”
That got to me because for many years now I have been in a steep funk about this country. I didn’t hate it but was depressed that the once bastion of freedom and rational acts was becoming a tyrant, prone to secretive actions, shredding the Bill of the Rights at every turn, and making the rest of the world hate us. I saw the US becoming a faux USSR of the Cold War era where words like “freedom” and “democracy” is merely a PR puff piece.
In my seething rage/funk I have screamed “ENOUGH!” a lot.
Then there was this:
You don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice – but it is not the change we need.
We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
YES! YES! I yelled in my apartment Thursday night as if the Cleveland Browns had score a touchdown against the dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers! Bush has squandered the legacy that took generations to build up.
Then it hit me. I have been at this point before. In 1980.
The 1970’s sucked for the US. We had the end of the Vietnam war, Watergate, farm foreclosures, an oil embargo, grain embargo, double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, hostages in Iran, and the President of the time talked about what was called a general “malaise” in the public.
Then out of the west, riding a horse, came a tall rugged man to save the day. In 1980 he said this:
Three hundred and sixty years ago, in 1620, a group of families dared to cross a mighty ocean to build a future for themselves in a new world. When they arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, they formed what they called a “compact,” an agreement among themselves to build a community and abide by its laws.
The single act — the voluntary binding together of free people to live under the law — set the pattern for what was to come.
A century and a half later, the descendants of those people pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to found this nation. Some forfeited their fortunes and their lives; none sacrificed honor.
Four score and seven years later, Abraham Lincoln called upon the people of all America to renew their dedication and their commitment to a government of, for and by the people.
Isn’t it once again time to renew our compact of freedom; to pledge to each other all that is best in our lives; all that gives meaning to them — for the sake of this, our beloved and blessed land?
Together, let us make this a new beginning. Let us make a commitment to care for the needy; to teach our children the values and the virtues handed down to us by our families; to have the courage to defend those values and the willingness to sacrifice for them.
Our problems are both acute and chronic, yet all we hear from those in positions of leadership are the same tired proposals for more government tinkering, more meddling and more control — all of which led us to this state in the first place.
Can anyone look at the record of this administration and say, “Well done”? Can anyone compare the state of our economy when the Carter Administration took office with where we are today and say, “Keep up the good work”? Can anyone look at our reduced standing in the world today and say, “Let’s have four more years of this”?
I believe the American people are going to answer these questions the first week of November and their answer will be, “No — we’ve had enough.” And, then it will be up to us — beginning next January 20 — to offer an administration and congressional leadership of competence and more than a little courage.
Who does not feel a growing sense of unease as our allies, facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration, reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as the leader of the free world?
Who does not feel rising alarm when the question in any discussion of foreign policy is no longer, “Should we do something?” but, “Do we have the capacity to do anything?”
The administration which has brought us to this state is seeking your endorsement for four more years of weakness, indecision, mediocrity and incompetence. No American should vote until he or she has asked, is the United States stronger and more respected now than it was three and a half years ago? Is the world today a safer place in which to live?
It is the responsibility of the president of the United States, in working for peace, to ensure that the safety of our people cannot successfully be threatened by a hostile foreign power. As president, fulfilling that responsibility will be my number one priority.
We are not a warlike people. Quite the opposite. We always seek to live in peace. We resort to force infrequently and with great reluctance — and only after we have determined that it is absolutely necessary. We are awed — and rightly so — by the forces of destruction at loose in the world in this nuclear era. But neither can we be naive or foolish. Four times in my lifetime America has gone to war, bleeding the lives of its young men into the sands of beachheads, the fields of Europe and the jungles and rice paddies of Asia. We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then that tyrants are tempted.
We simply cannot learn these lessons the hard way again without risking our destruction.
That man was Ronald Reagan in his 1980 Republican nomination acceptance speech.
Of course other parts of the speech was not my political views of the time (or even today) but the thing about it was here was someone telling the nation ENOUGH! Reagan did change the mood of the country once he was in office – such as telling the press to stop with the negative stories about the economy. He borrowed billions to build up the military and didn’t take any shit from anyone like the Grenadians and Nicaraguans. He also told the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall and they did….. in 1989 when their communist system was almost bankrupt and they lost controll over their puppets.
What Barack Obama did for me on Thursday night – was restore my confidence – ended my malaise – that the US will return to its legacy and roots as the bulwark of rational actions and a bastion for freedom and democracy. Obama will patch up the Bill of Rights and restore our reputation in the world.
I spoke to my mother and asked if she watched the speech and she had and said Obama reminded her of John F Kennedy. She was getting the same vibe I was. Before the convention she had doubts about Obama but she was on his side now. It also helped that his personal story mirrored our life. A single parent household going from good times to food stamps.
So there I was yelling YES! YES! and wanting to find a voting booth to vote now – for the good of this country and for the future of our children.