Wednesday, June 4, 2008

History


Barack Obama entered the annals of history last night when he claimed victory over Hillary Clinton in the long march to the Democratic party nomination. In a powerful speech pointedly set at the site of the upcoming Republican National Convention, a determined-looking Obama paid tribute to his rival before looking ahead to the general election. He then turned John McCain's potshots about visiting Iraq on back at McCain, asserting that the Republican had not spent enough time visiting laid-off workers, struggling farmers, and failing schools in the cities and towns of the United States. The first African-American to be nominated for president by a major political party placed his victory in the context of history, showing it as a step on a journey begun by the Civil War and that proceeded through the Civil Rights era. 

The (presumptive, as the networks put it) presidential nominee then looked literally to the future, casting the November election as nothing less than a referendum on America's direction for generations to come. While he invoked the word "change" repeatedly, he stressed his belief that the upcoming election stands as a critical moment for Americans to seize the future by taking a step to transform our government and society. In Obama's vision, government is a tool at the service of all Americans, the best and most effective means of providing healthcare, moving the economy forward, improving educational opportunities, and reclaiming a position of world leadership based on diplomacy and not force.

Earlier in the evening, a pasty, wattled John McCain applied the word "change" to his candidacy no less than 33 times. In typical conservative fashion, the fourth-term senator -- who looked like nothing so much as a tortoise poking his head into the sunshine for the first time in years, gandering his head about uncertainly -- seems to subscribe to the belief that saying something enough times makes it true. In any case, he has a tough sell ahead of him: That his version of free -market, minimal government change is both different than what we have now and preferable to Obama's activist philosophy. It would be one thing if the electorate liked the direction the country has taken, but it doesn't.

Barack Obama's nomination in itself won't lift a single person out of poverty, bring health care to anyone who doesn't have it, or take us any close to ending the tragedy of Iraq. But nonetheless it is a moment that surely all Americans can take pride in, a notable step to realizing our collective belief that all are created equal.

4 comments:

Scrumpy's Baker said...

Funny as it sounds, I don't think the enormity of this hit me until today. Seems like we Americans haven't had a whole lot to be proud of lately. I'm certainly proud of this moment. I hope it lasts.

Renegade Eye said...

The line of people to hear Obama speak in St. Paul, at the Xcel Center, was a mile long. The building was filled to SRO, and 10,000 people turned away.

Foxessa said...

I've been so beat up by feminists these last weeks, some of whom have been long-time friends, that this marvelous turn of events has become personal in a way that I never expected.

Can you believe that two people I've been friends with for years have literally denounced me as an enemy of women and cut me out of their lives? They turned seriously whacko by the end of last month, stating -- well screaming -- the most irrational stuff. You'd have thought Clinton was the result of immaculate conception and the vessel of that conception both, and that Obama was at the very least, Lucifer. They were so out of reality on any level I was speechless, though my jaw hung open, dropped to the very floor.

Love, C.

K. said...

The Nation had an interesting article a couple of issues ago arguing that the campaign had exposed a generational schism among feminists, with younger women tending to support Obama. I don't know enough about the intra-movement politics to have a opinion one way or another, but I have seen this divide even within families.

It would be a disgrace for politically active women to sit out the fall election in a pique. We have a great chance of electing the most progressive administration since the heyday of Lyndon Johnson. Time to keep our eye on the ball.