Hope for America

I felt hope for our country, for our future, for the first time in a long time when I watched Obama’s speech tonight.  It would be hard to exaggerate how electrifying it was watching, as he made his case, point by point, to a crowd of, over 75,000, I think they said, packed into a gigantic football stadium, hanging on his every word.  It would also be hard to exaggerate what a nightmare the last 8 years have been for this country, and how much we need hope.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.

That’s just the economic issues, but it would be hard to exaggerate how badly so many of us have been hit by those, either.

Then there’s the Iraq War, torture, losing our civil liberties, Katrina. . .

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

God, I hope so. This is coming from an agnostic.  Seriously, though, I like to think our country is better than this.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty…

… that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.

That happened here, in our country.  We have poor people still not being able to go back to their homes, and yet, we can always bail out large banks and corporations from their own greed.

Obama is far more charitable to McCain than I’d be (but his analysis of McCain’s positions is right on):

Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans; I just think he doesn’t know.

Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans?

How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care; it’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.

As Obama points out, this is part of the old Republican “trickle down” theory.  Give more to the rich, and it’s supposed to “trickle down” to the rest of us.

In Washington, they call this the “Ownership Society,” but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you’re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You are on your own.

He paints a different vision for the Democrats (who I think, sadly, side too often with the Republicans):

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job, an economy that honors the dignity of work.

I like Barack’s vision of America, and it is the America we are told exists:

What — what is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

I like his ideas for the economy – instead of giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, giving them to companies that create jobs here in America, eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses to create high-wage, high tech-jobs,cutting taxes for 95% of working people.  Eliminating our dependence on oil from the Middle East (okay, I’m not to crazy about the nuclear power part, and uncertain about tapping our natural gas reserves and clean coal technology; but definitely like the idea of making fuel efficient cars here in the U.S.)  How about public transit and Amtrak – why not develop fast train service like in Europe?  He does talk about developing renewable energy – wind power, solar power, biofuels.

Investing in education.  There’s a big one, and I don’t think anything is more important.  We keep wasting generations of young people, and even many of those who do make it through to college are saddled with an absurd amount of debt.

I’ll invest in early childhood education. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support. And in exchange, I’ll ask for higher standards and more accountability.

And we will keep our promise to every young American: If you commit to serving your community or our country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Affordable and accessible health care for all Americans. 

If you have health care — if you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.

Protecting social security, equal pay for equal work. . .

Balancing the budget (interesting how we now have tax cut and spend conservatives. . .):

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime: by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow.

But I will also go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less, because we cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy.

Personal responsibility as well:

Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents, that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework, that fathers must take more responsibility to provide love and guidance to their children.

I’m glad to see Barack take on McCain on his ability to lead as commander-in-chief, but I wish he (and the other Democrats) didn’t feel the need to be so hawk-like themselves.  Out of Iraq, but more emphasis on capturing Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaida leaders (that part I agree with. . . yeah, remember them, they’re the ones who killed all those Americans on Sept. 11, 2001?) and Afghanistan (I was never keen on that war either, we’ve created at least as much of a mess there as in Iraq).

He also talks about making sure our soldiers have the equipment they need and care when they get home, and the need for diplomacy (which has been so arrogantly missing from the Bush administration).

As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

And this:

And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

He is calling for an end to partisan attacks and a bi-partisan coming together on issues around the values we do believe in, citing wedge (or as I call them, wedgie) issues like abortion, gun control and gay rights.  Admittedly, it would be good to get past this “red state”/”blue state” divisiveness, but we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, invoking Martin Luther King (and fireworks).  A great speech.  An incredible moment in American history.

I’m thinking we can do this.  Also an incredible moment in the Democratic party, as, for the first time in years, we have a candidate willing to fight for it and hold back nothing (whether in campaigning in and trying to win every state, or fighting back Republican attack adds).  Fight for it as hard after the primaries (which has been where it’s always falling apart, at the important part. . . it doesn’t make a lot of difference in the long run to win the Democratic candidacy, then loose the election. . .)

Go, Obama!




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