An Impressive (and Maybe Historic) Speech

I’ve not said much about the US elec­tion to date. I’ll be vot­ing in it, as an Amer­i­can abroad (even though I’m not real­ly ‘abroad’).  Still, being a cit­i­zen, it’s my right to do so, at least up until I give up Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, which for prac­ti­cal rea­sons I doubt I’ll ever do, no mat­ter how expen­sive the US gov­ern­ment makes it to keep it (but who knows what the future will bring).

It should come as no sur­prise that I’m sup­port­ing the can­di­da­cy of Barack Oba­ma. I was nev­er a fan of Hilary Clin­ton. She was always too stri­dent and nev­er owned up to the mis­take of vot­ing for the Iraq war. A sim­ple apol­o­gy would have been fine for me (like the one Richard Clarke gave to the 9/11 wid­ows). Late­ly she’s struck me as so unpleas­ant and shrill in so many ways (includ­ing more than a whiff of some of the worst intru­sive and med­dle­some self-right­eous­ness that Mod­ern Lib­er­al­ism in the US  can be; It Takes a Vil­lage indeed…) that I can even imag­ine her los­ing to John McCain on pure back­lash, and a McCain in the Oval Office would be far worse then Hilary. I also hat­ed the idea of the Pres­i­den­cy being a tro­phy tossed back and forth between two fam­i­lies that each felt them­selves unique­ly enti­tled to it. After Hilary’s stint, it would be Jeb Bush for two terms, and then it would be Chelsea’s turn, fol­lowed by… the twins? Sure; By that time the US would have been reduced to Third World Nation sta­tus, and it wouldn’t mat­ter any more which Dynasty got their four or eight-year Time-share slot in the Pres­i­den­tial Palace.

But I digress…

Oba­ma struck me as far more inspir­ing and inter­est­ing, (although admit­ted­ly not as much as Howard Dean did), but I couldn’t put my fin­ger on why until the speech he gave today. He made the speech because he had to deal with the tox­ic state­ments made by the Pas­tor of his Church,  and why he hadn’t dis­tanced him­self from the man who made it (in addi­tion to leav­ing the Church itself).

That was the rea­son for the speech. What I heard instead, was a clear and elo­quent med­i­ta­tion on why the US is still so divid­ed, how it got to where it is today, and maybe, how it can begin to move for­ward.

Bush and the Repub­li­cans had been using Race as a way of split­ting up the elec­torate, main­ly to keep the South in their pock­et. It has always been in their best inter­est to keep the dia­log on racial inequal­i­ty a taboo in pub­lic life, or to sim­ply ignore it. With this speech, I think Oba­ma began to open up the dia­log about this top­ic, touch­ing upon one exposed nerve after anoth­er:  Slav­ery and the Con­sti­tu­tion, Wel­fare, Affir­ma­tive Action, Immi­gra­tion… He men­tioned them all. In essence, both sides of the debate on race have mer­it, but we have to all move on now, if we have the courage to. It was the kind of speech that a patient, edu­cat­ed, and dare I say it — a wise States­man (rather than mere­ly a politi­cian) would give. Whether or not Oba­ma wins the elec­tion, I have a hunch this speech will be talked about and stud­ied in his­to­ry texts for a long time.

But don’t take my word for it. If you have the time, watch the speech on YouTube. I’ve embed­ded it here, despite the mediocre qual­i­ty of the video and audio. If I find a bet­ter source, I’ll link to it. (I’ve done this, thanks to Al ‘Bokashi-man’ Pasternak’s point­er.)