Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Review of Night Two of the Democratic Convention
Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.
Wow. Barack Obama was as good as advertised. Reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive of the Democratic Party's newist star, even if some have reservations and remind that the Democrats have had an uneven history with their "keynote" speakers. Still, I liked last night's speech even more than Clinton's on Monday night and I think Obama has a very bright future ahead of him. He's likely to cruise to his Senate seat in the general election. As Josh Marshall put it on Talking Points today:
Obama probably would have won the Illinois Senate seat in November by a solid margin regardless. Now it's not clear that it'll even be a contest after his opponent's candidacy collapsed amid his would-be party constituents close-mindedness about his desire to see his movie star wife have sex with other men in Paris sex clubs.
Night two, in general, continued with what has been the big theme so far, a general assault on the notion of "two Americas." Obama, Kennedy (who gave an uneven speech, I thought - at times very good, but a strained delivery), Dean, and Teresa Heinz-Kerry all echoed this theme, but the young African-American seems to have had the most eloquent things to say about it:

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America.

The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

I think its a powerful message - one that shouldn't be ignored. I'm sick of all this blue state/red state talk when the reality is that people aren't all that different. Are there some profound differences in places? Of course! But that doesn't fundamentally mean that there are "two Americas." If there are two Americas in this nation, it has nothing to do with where one lives. Rather, it has everything to do with the wealthy America and the America that the rest of us live in. The America where you get tax cuts and sweetheart deals for your corporation, and a bonus for shipping jobs overseas and increasing the wealth of your fellow elite - an America of unrestrained greed, with little thought for the people you impact, the environment you destroy, the future crippled.

And the other America. Where it is a struggle to remain in the middle class, considering ever rising health care costs and a lack of real wage increases to compensate. Where good paying jobs vanish overseas in the hunt for corporate profits...to people who are already wealthy. Where you work longer and longer hours and have less to show for it. Where you can work a fulltime job, sometimes well over 40 hours per week, and still live below the poverty line, or struggle to make ends meet. And then to see your family values questioned.

Not that you'll see this exact message - sadly, the Democrats have moved away from the language of class differences...mostly because they had weak political candidates who would not stand up for what they believed in. It is a message that I believe many would hold with today. Its just too bad that you won't hear it.

Tonight is John Edwards' moment in the sun.

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