Snarky Behavior

The Referendum of Hope

January 4, 2008 · 1 Comment

Of Barack Obama’s speeches’, Ezra Klein comments:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

It seems a vote for Obama, aside from his stance on the issues, is a referendum on the identity of America.  The vote for Obama is truly a progressive vote in the sense that it represents an urgent and hopeful desire to (finally) “move on” from the ugly and bitter legacies of previous generations and administrations.  The Iowans who kicked off this election told the rest of the country three important things:

1.  America is post-racism.   Not to say that racism doesn’t exist in America, only that Americans are tired of allowing this legacy perpetuate as a latent and lingering issue that divides and defines us.  We are ready to move on.  We are desperate to move forward.  For all of the talk of “electability,” only 10% of Iowans claimed it as the determining factor in their vote.

2.  America is genuine in accepting and practicing a “moral authority.”  A vote for Obama is a statement to the rest of the world: “We are not the country our foreign policy over the past 5 years has painted us as.”  We do not condone torture.  We do not fear monger.  We are a strong nation based on tolerance, on ingenuity, on hard work, on freedom and democracy.

3 .  America is ready to explore the issues that unite us, and find common ground on the issues that divide us.  Most importantly, a vote for Obama is a vote for a new brand of politics.  There are those who are cynical of bipartisanship.  There are those who champion partisanship, because it makes people more politically aware of our differences and alternatives in policy decisions.  But the good people of Iowa have told the cynics to shove it.  We pledge allegiance to America, not its political factions.

A vote for Obama is a vote for the harder path, the higher ground. A vote for Obama expects more from America then what we’ve seen or known.  I hope he sweeps through New Hampshire and beyond.

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