I have been thinking back to a watershed moment in my relationship with American politics. I was at a retreat in March 2008, and during the retreat we watched Barack Obama's speech "A More Perfect Union." In it, Obama talked about race, patriotism, Iraq, and the economy in a way that was real, from his heart, and he spoke about people having differences of opinion while also being human. It remains one of the most powerful speeches I have ever witnessed, and at that moment of watching it, I was moved and felt hope that perhaps it was possible to elect a President that could speak his truth, from his heart, eloquently, and I could believe him.
Viewing this speech I felt years, if not decades, of a sense of political hopelessness unwind inside me. Years of making the assumption that what I was hearing was politically expedient or meant to offer a piece of the truth, a shade of the truth, or soundbites in which I have no idea, no hope, of understanding where truth might lie. It was, and remains, hugely emotional for me. Barack Obama spoke to me like an adult. I remember thinking that this man got it, and re-invigorated my sense of what a President looks and sounds like.
I found it incredibly worthwhile to listen to this speech again as a reminder of why Barack Obama is such a different candidate for President. There is no comparison to the alternative.
Barack Obama's choice of running mate, Joe Biden, further deepens the wealth of leadership on the Democratic ticket. Senator Biden is a man who I believe has dedicated his life to public service, and genuinely believes in what he says. He seems in so many ways complementary to Obama. Joe Biden is a man I believe could walk into the Oval Office as President, if necessary, and there would be continuity in leadership of this country.
John McCain, on the other hand, is static. This is nothing new there. It feels to me like the continuation of the same old sense of hopelessness that we might have a President that can redirect the focus of this country - a President that might instill in me an invigorated sense of Pride in my country. His choice of running mate appears calculated to capture a segment of the vote regardless of whether she could possibly successfully step into the role. It feels like the ultimate slap in the face to women. Throw up a woman who can offer window dressing to a ticket seriously lacking in anything new, who we all know is unqualified for the job, but simultaneously throws red meat to a flagging conservative base and is intended to offer to the public the idea that Republicans respect women and their rights. Unless that happens to be the right to know what is best for them, their circumstances, and their bodies. It makes me so angry.
I'm not proud right now. I am incredibly disappointed. The federal government is out of touch with nearly everything that is meaningful to me as a citizen. The idea of truth in government has become something akin to a very bad joke. McCain and Company offer nothing new. It's the same-old pathetic course this country has been taking for the past 7+ years. And it is not working.
Revisiting Obama's speech from last March reminded me that he is a man who offers hope. He is a man who offers the possibility of a change in course. Barack Obama offers me, a person who once genuinely believed in the possibilities of this country, that the United States really does stand for hope in the world, a renewed sense of those possibilities.
There is little more that I can ask for.