Liberty: Last night I saw Americans who have been hiding in the shadows of apathy or cynicism come out and get excited about the future of their country. Americans who showed that they can wait in a line for hours, just to participate in a celebration of their power to make a difference.
Barack Obama's speech stressed individual and mutual responsibility. He said Democratic leadership, and an Obama presidency, would not do everything for Americans. It would, though, help them accomplish the things they cannot do for themselves, like protect the country from national security threats in Afghanistan, and give those who do not have bootstraps a pair so they can pull themselves up into the promise of middle-class prosperity. And while he was at it, Obama fiercely made the case that John McCain has and will turn his back on America's urgent needs because he just doesn't get it.
Whenever a politician claims that government can make peoples' lives better, critics become skeptical. But last night I saw a candidate that will, and did, make a commitment to ordinary people. Who did the best he could to offer specifics, without falling prey to a typical Democratic weakness of ignoring an emotional argument. Democracy became an action verb, not something that the well-connected took care of for you.
To see Citizen's reaction and more pictures we took at the event,
Citizen: At its heart, there wasn't so much about the speech that was innately objectionable, the broad strokes he painted are a fine landscape — but he doesn't speak to me. Whether a fundamental difference of political philosophy or a complete lack of chemistry with the man, as much as I enjoyed witnessing the spectacle, I was not moved by it. I was not inspired by the parade of done-wrong stories. When he said, "More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach. These challenges are not all of government's making." My head screamed, but does that mean they're for the government's fixing?
I'm all for roads and a smart, no-waste globally beneficially governmental structure (and let's get it right), but I sure as hell don't want to rely on that as my complete bedrock of security. With great reliance comes great power, and I don't want my government to have that power over me. My building blocks of support come from the ground up, not the top down. When things go wrong, I want solutions to come from self first, then family, then community, on up — the government would never be my first call. As Liberty and I hashed it out afterward, it's a different philosophy. If you have a safety net you're more likely to fall. It's just human nature. If someone will fix your problems for you, why wouldn't you let them? Though he said this: "Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves," that was not the real message conveyed last night, at least not to me.
Then there was the event itself. I've loved this week — you don't have to support a candidate to support the effort of democracy. But last night's dressed-down, come as you are, jumbo-soda and plate-of-nachos stadium setting was disappointing. With the crowd doing the wave and the half time-style line up, I kept waiting for kickoff. Between the utter distraction and screaming every time a famous person appeared, for much of the event what was happening on stage was an after thought.
And on that stage? A veritable variety show. Sheryl Crow? Stevie Wonder? Where is the sense of decorum and humility and ceremony in the midst of a rock concert? There is a time and place for celebration, but this most serious and sterling of occasions isn't it. I'm here for the speeches, not the snacks; the weight of grave responsibility, not the wave; and the gracious dignity, not the grandstand.