Just a few moments after feeling pretty bad about my fellows humans on earth - in a day where I recognized mostly its dregs, like the punks who smashed in my car window or the seemingly nice guy who tipped me $6 on $62 after two hours of superb service (and not, admittedly, the people I should have focused upon, like the friends who drove across the city to get me into work, or the wife of a friend who drove several miles out of her way to get me home) - I'm once again placing faith in humanity.
And why? Barack Obama.
I didn't think he could ever come close to topping his DNC speech of 2004, but, wow, his speech today almost did it.
My favorite part:
I recognize there is a certain presumptuousness - a certain audacity - to this announcement. I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
The genius of our founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we've changed this country before. In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an Empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard a King's call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what's needed to be done. Today we are called once more - and it is time for our generation to answer that call.
A politician who makes me want to be a better person? A politician that seems like he could unite a country? I didn't think it could ever happen, but it's feeling like it now.
I took a whole course on Abraham Lincoln in college, called American Political Thought. I read most of Lincoln's writings during it, and the professor really made the man real for us. Politicans like to bring him up now, but it's never felt right until today:
By ourselves, this change will not happen. Divided, we are bound to fail.
But the life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible. He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope. (At this point, I was groaning a little bit, thinking he was talking about himself. Nope.)
As Lincoln organized the forces arrayed against slavery, he was heard to say: "Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought to battle through. That is our purpose here today.
That's why I'm in this race. Not just to hold an office, but to gather with you to transform a nation. I want to win that next battle - for justice and opportunity. I want to win that next battle - for better schools, and better jobs, and health care for all. I want us to take up the unfinished business of perfecting our union, and building a better America.
And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth.
I mean, I know those lines seem totally cheesy. Unrealistic. Whatever. I'm feeling it, totally. And I've never felt that way about a leader before in my life.
I hope the pedestal I'm putting him on doesn't come crashing down. But I also hope this feeling doesn't dim.
It's a great appetizer he's serving up right now; let's hope that the main course is just as good.
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