Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Two words: Barrack Obama

The democratic national convention is going down - two days over, two to come. I haven't watched it all, but I was begining to think I'd seen enough. I saw the news personalities talk about how the democrats would be trying to find a nice, strong, effective, one-sentence statement that could 'sum up' their entire campaign. I saw more politicians than I care to mention talk about how John Kerry is for a "strong America", and none of them told me if John Kerry is strong enough for America. I even saw Howard Dean recieve an inspiringly rousing ovation, only to follow it with an empty, lack-luster speach, that did little to rouse my quickly deflating hopes for American politics. I did see Ralph Nader interviewed briefly by a news channel, but while he brought the facts, the intelligence, the idealism, and even his new book, he can't bring the charm, and he'll never bring in any votes. In his dreary speech, Dean managed to confound the press with raising the issue of being unashamed to be a Democrat? Were the Democrats ashamed? Were they supposed to be? I'm not sure it ever occured to me to be ashamed before, but Howie, now that you mention it... The more I watched, the more they talked. The more they talked, the less they said. The less they said, the more I knew that my vote for the democrats was to be one of desperation. I do not want John Kerry to be President, kind of like I don't want Peter Forsberg to go play hockey in Sweeden, but a re-election in 2004 isn't a matter of preference, it's more along the lines of losing both thumbs, or getting developing a case of interminable, lifelong indegestion. As the convention went down, so did my belief that they had answers, and with that, my hope that we might be able to turn this political gong-show around. To be honest, I was ready to vote for Nader, not because I want him to be the next president, but because I'm just frustrated as hell with my other choices. Then came Barrack Obama.

As he walked to the stage while the news personalities finished their idle banter and the flashy on-screen graphics identified him as a a current state senator in Illinois, candidate for the U.S. Senate from the same state, a black guy with a clearly african name, and the keynote speaker on the second night of the Democratic National Convention, a position held last night by Bill Clinton, things didn't seem to add up. Who is Barrack Obama, why is he the keynote speaker, and how the hell do you say his name. Before he ever got around to mentioning John Kerry, those had been quite definitively answered. If you can find the video (dictatoblog found one, check it out now, before you read any more) of his speech anywhere, watch it, because the transcript really doesn't do him justice.

Toward the end of one of the more powerful, logical, well-written, and well-delivered political speeches I've seen in a long, long time, Obama put into words just the kind of hope for the future I wanted to have, but just couldn't find amoung the coercive language and empty promises made by both parties:

"It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too."

I won't pretend that the appeal of Obama's speech wasn't primarily emotional. I won't try to tell you he even scratched the surface of an actual discussion of the issues at play in this election, and in the future, he didn't. What he did do, was deliver a damn fine speech - a speech that wouldn't make me wince to know the world was watching. When we elect a president, or political figure, we elect, to a certian extent, just that, a figure. We elect a representitave, that will speak, act, think, and represent us. Based on one speech, given by one man, on one night, I am prepared to say that there must surely be at least one man in Washington (or rather, still aiming for Washington), that I would be both unashamed and glad to have represent me in the senate, the white house, or the world. Even if his ideas and beliefs were not my own, my values not his, and our opinions oposed, we could at least have a, a public speaker who could speak, and leader who could lead, and a representative who could downwrite REPRESENT. Barrack Obama, you got my vote tonight, for whatever you run for.

George, don't tell me to be optomistic, give me something to be optomistic about. Howie, don't tell to be unashamed to be a democrat, give me something to be unashamed about. The rest of you, don't tell me to vote, give me something to vote for. Tonight, a skinny black kid from Illinois moved me. Bloody brilliant, I say.

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