Friday, August 29, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

There are times in my life when a speech has left me teary-eyed. Most often though, the speeches that have moved me most were not spoken in my lifetime. I read about them in textbooks or listened to them on tape--Sojourner Truth's address to the 1851 women's rights convention, Robert Kennedy's call to resist rioting and come together as a nation in the wake of the MLK assassination (here's a link to listen to it:, and of course the many moving words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are lots of speeches like this throughout history. They move people to act. They offer a sense of emotional relief because finally, someone has said what has needed to be said for a long time--and they did it in a way that was just plain powerful. They did it in a way that makes it very hard for people, even with the coldest of hearts, to resist listening.

Obama's speech last night was not MLK-esque. It may not even be ranked as a great speech in history (although I doubt it). But it was the first time in a very long time, that I have felt hope for our country. It will be remembered because of the sheer historical value of this moment in time. I haven't followed Obama's career for long--maybe a couple of years at most. But had you asked me three, four, even ten years ago, if I thought I'd see a minority president in office, I would have said "I hope so. But I doubt it." It's like the final frontier in gender and race inequality--A Black Man in the White House. A Woman in the Whitehouse (someday people, someday).

But back to Obama's speech. It was direct. It was insistent. It was strong. There was no b.s., no politician-y rhetoric, no unnecessary verbosity. I think it was even powerful enough to defrost some cold hearts ;). To me, it's not even a matter of Republican vs. Democrat, black vs. white. It's a matter of who is going to let "We the People" (not just a select few) have a place in our great Democracy again. Who is going to care for people who can't care for themselves? Who is going to protect our world and our environment? Who is going to regain peoples' trust and confidence?

Maybe it's all lollipops and rainbows. Maybe Obama won't deliver. Maybe our nation's issues (and even the world's issues) are so divisive that we'll never find common ground. But I'm savoring Obama's speech today. For this moment I am thrilled to feel moved in a way that I previously was only able to get from a textbook, or an ancient audio recording of politicians past.

Obama got my vote.

Alright, time for pictures!

The DNC has Harper's full attention*

She thinks Al Gore's jokes are funny.

Vote for Obama!

(*note to grandmas: I swear we're not letting Harper watch TV. It was just this one little time)