Last night, Barack Obama pummeled his Democratic rival, winning his ninth state in a row over the increasingly flaccid campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Recently, people have been asking me — even some here on this blog — exactly why it is that I so admire and am attracted to Barack Obama. Moreover, they’ve commented that they don’t even know what Obama stands for, further driving the earlier query as to my personal interest. The questions, in my mind, are inexorably intertwined.
The lack of knowing what Obama stands for strikes me as a bit disingenuous and/or silly. A five-minute search online will yield dozens of virtual storehouses, from his official campaign’s website to all the major newspapers to countless political action pages of all stripes that have comprehensive breakdowns of his political beliefs, some even spelled out in his own words. All one needs do is be proactive. It is true that this complaint about style over substance and rhetoric over reality has been coming to the fore lately. And you have seen Obama compensating the past week or so, filling his victory speeches with more specific policy details than one is used to hearing.
The problem, in my opinion, is those very victory speeches. The public, wondering what Obama stands for, tunes in only to those speeches. But that is not what a victory speech is for. A victory speech is a time to exult in the heady brew of success and inspire the watching crowds to turn a singular triumph into sustainable momentum. Policy details, while certainly not out of place in a victory speech, are primarily for campaign speeches and national debates and Obama has laid out a clear agenda in all of them.
Those who feel Obama never says anything of substance in his speeches are simply watching the wrong speeches.
Now on to the earlier and admittedly more personal question — why I like Barack Obama. Obviously, this is not the sort of question I can answer without revealing much of my own political ideology. And I don’t want to make this about what I believe. Originally I composed a rough draft of this post that was several pages long. I’d been working on it for weeks. It was a comprehensive examination of Obama’s stances and why I sided with him on them.
However, in addition to simply being a long, unwieldy, wordy glutton, I realized that, instead of inspiring dialogue about Obama, it would have focused all eyes on my own ideology and that was hardly my intent. So I tossed it in the proverbial trash bin.
This is not an attempt to sidestep the original question, even though I understand if some see it as such. I encourage those who asked the question in the first place to visit here
, or here
for starters and see what Obama stands for. Chances are the stances listed there are exactly why he already has my vote. We don’t agree on everything, to be certain. But we agree on enough.
Let me say something about the brouhaha over Obama’s empty eloquence, because that is ground sturdy enough to hold even my feigning weight. Yes, Obama inspires me. Yes, he makes me feel proud to be an American. And while I may not agree with Michelle Obama and claim that her husband has made me feel pride in my country for the first time in my life, it is certainly the first time I’ve felt anything more than raging contempt and disenchantment in the past seven years. And I'd be lying if I didn't say that no statesman in my lifetime has inspired me more. Obama breeds hope, appealing to the better angels of our nature. He makes me strive to be better and hope my country can be better — something I’ve despaired of for a long time.
Yes, those are just words, but they are good words and words are where we must begin. Words are the fuel that power the engines of change. No, words are not actions and I am certainly not a fan of empty, unsubstantive bluster. But you cannot have actions without words. So long as the resolve is there to transform the words into reality, then the words are indispensable. And if words are the vanguards of our actions, then let them be words of hope and motivation and nobility.
From Lincoln's second inaugural address
to JFK's first
, from RFK's pleas for unity
to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a better tomorrow
, from Ronald Reagan’s aural assault on communism
to Barack Obama’s vision of change
, great and powerful history begins with short and soft syllables. Words crystallize. Words galvanize. Words arouse the unconscious, the ignorant and even the apathetic.
This isn’t a debate about pollyanna vs. pragmatism. It is about cynicism vs. transcendence.