Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Six Days.

Whatever happens in the election six days from now, I want to remember this moment, tonight. I want to savor it and memorize it. It was the moment when a candidate for president finally spoke the kinds of truths and voiced the same fears and concerns for our nation that I have felt for over a quarter of a century.

Barack Obama's extended campaign commercial transcended for a brief moment the familiar politics of our time, the bloody churn of insinuation and character destruction, of "swift-boating" and "robo-calling." And by transcending it, even if only for a moment, it has been rendered broken and obsolete, and the air is clear, and clean, and feels fine.

My first realization, after drying my eyes for the second or third time, was that not once in the entire thirty minutes was I invited to hate or sneer at anybody, to pry the divisions between people further apart, to demonize anyone, to mock anyone's sincerity or question their patriotism. I was able to feel hopeful, and proud.

As a hard worker in this vanishing middle class, I felt dignified, uplifted. I was reminded how tough we are, the Americans struggling to hold onto our futures and our standard of living, to protect and nurture our children even as the ground vanishes beneath our feet. I heard a loud voice calling for a life-rope for the middle class, and was reminded of the dignity of work.

Best of all, not once did Obama criticize or even mention John McCain or Sarah Palin. Not once. He didn't spend ten seconds of his million-dollar half-hour to respond to their slanders and lies about his character, his background, his religion, his associations, his love of country.

Nor did he waste time ticking off the thousand injuries John McCain has inflicted on his own integrity, the ways McCain's once-principled stances have vanished one by one, gone underground, or simply morphed into their own opposites, sold off in the marketplace for votes: The wrongness of President Bush's tax cuts. The bigotry of the Religious Right. The moral necessity of banning torture in our prison camps. The refusal to demonize immigrants. All gone, flip-flopped away like the tricks a performing seal learns to do for a handful of fish.

It takes a strong person with real courage to have as many weapons at hand as Obama did tonight and not use them. We had a glimpse of this defining trait tonight, this decency, this faith in his own ideas. I hope and believe we will see this again soon, not only in the man, but in the president.

Thinking about it now, later in the evening, with the Phillies clobbering the Rays silently in the background, I come to my second realization.

Somehow, despite my best efforts, I have, at least for the moment, let my guard down and done the one thing Obama has been asking me to do for over a year: Hope.

Millions of Americans like me are standing shoulder to shoulder in a skirmish line. I enjoy the feeling, this immense force pulling on me, this swelling of humanity, this mass consciousness, this group-think - even as I know it is fleeting, and dangerous, and corrupting - and addictive.

I stand here, my hard-won cynicism fallen around my ankles, the autumn night sky cold and clear on my face, our wide-open future laid out ahead of me. I call out to you, fellow travelers, across the dust-blown, windy, American playground, from this small corner in history and time.

We are not alone!

Here comes Tuesday. Stand firm. See you on the other side.


Flamsey said...

I have to admit that I got a little choked up too. I am sure I will wind up being bitterly disappointed again... but for the moment brother I am with you in the glorious light of hope!

I got word yesterday that my health insurance premiums would be going up 17% this year. Last year they went up 15%. Pretty soon I'll be owing money from my paycheck just to cover the premiums...

On another note... this trillion dollar bail out has my panties in a bunch. All of a sudden we have a trillion dollars? After 25 years of starving the beast? We could have really built that shining city on a hill with a trillion dollars. We could have really changed the lives for the better of every person in this country... but instead we threw it down the rabbit hole never to be seen again...

democrat doctor said...

I emailed my daughter after the commercial and said, "That's what we've been needing for all these years.... a LEADER. And it looks like we've finally found one." I just hope we don't screw up the opportunity.

Dan Wilensky said...

Nicely Said. Ending it all with a few words in front of a full stadium crowd live in Florida was brilliant. He's going to get the chance to lead and he's going to live up to his promise. I just wish I lived if a battleground state!