Last night, like many of you I'm sure, I watched a little piece of American history,
How long has it been since we saw a stadium full of the fever-pitch excitement of 85,000 ordinary people, cheering on someone other than a music or sports celebrity? And how exciting is it that the person they were cheering for was talking about health care, education, green energy and restoring America's respect around the world? How COOL is it, that this excitement was for, who I believe will be, the next President of the United States?
Black, white, yellow, brown... despite the historic moment for black Americans, it wasn't so much the color of his skin that made your eyes tear up, it was the resonance of his words and the sense that here was someone who you could believe in, who might just make a difference to our country. The ability of Obama to energize a crowd, an electorate, is truly awe-inspiring and humbling. You couldn't help but smile as you saw Michelle Obama watch her husband on stage, greeted like a rock-star - how proud she must be of her husband and the father of her children.
What connected with me the most in Obama's 44 minute speech was the handshake he made betwen personal and collective responsibility. All too often us Dems are branded as supporters of lazy people on welfare, big government that wants to solve all our problems, and indiscriminate tax hikes. It's a convenient stereotype, rarely true, yet used by Republicans as a way of dismissing the ideas of the left and polarizing the electorate. Yet Obama went beyond the political to explain that, while we do believe that there was a role for government in each of these arenas, it didn't mean that Democrats dismissed the value of hard work and personal responsibility to grasp your own piece of the American Dream. HOORAY, I say to that.
He also delved into those issues that divide us most - abortion, gun ownership, same-sex marriage, and immigration - and challenged us all to see that there is common ground to be found in each one. Just like his now infamous tagline, throughout this speech he sought to tap into the best of each of us and asked us all to believe not just in him, but in ourselves. So that every time the Republicans or political cynics dismiss his policies of change as hopeless, we can all say from somewhere within us "yes we can".
There is a lesson to be learned for all of us in Obama's speech but for me I took away two things that I intend to think more about in this election year: the nature of true leadership and my responsibilities as a citizen of this country, both of which wouldn't hurt from a gut check.
I venture to say that he restored dignity to politics, and what it means to be a Democrat.
I may have been a Hillary supporter (and still am) but I was energized and humbled by Obama's speech. And yes, although the word has been somewhat tired out during the course of his campaign, left feeling hopeful for America.