Now THAT was a speech. I guess we got spoiled in 2008, when Obama trotted out a new, moving speech for every primary win… but I’d forgotten what this felt like – to truly believe that the man running for President really understood my values, my concerns, my hopes for the best in this nation. But now that he’s the POTUS, it seems all I’ve heard about is the Republican ticket. Attacks on women’s reproductive rights, vitriol over gays in the military, the promise to end Obamacare, the pledge to enshrine intolerance in our Constitution. And lies upon lies upon lies. Lies about Medicare, lies about taxes, lies about the President’s record, and lies about their own records. I don’t know what it’s like, experiencing a national election from a blue state, but here in Tennessee it gets scary. Sometimes it seems that no one in public life is willing to stand up with the President and embrace what he’s done, to be openly liberal and proud of it. To represent what Howard Dean once called “The Democratic wing of the Democratic party.”
I was reminded of the euphoria I felt when Obama was elected. Not just the joy that came from having worked so hard for this result; I felt, for a moment, as if people like me were in the majority, for the first time in my adult life. People who wanted opportunities for advancement to be open to all in the United States, people who believe that the government can make a positive difference in people’s lives. People who believed that no one should be without a safe home or adequate food and medical care – that our society should provide a floor through which we let no one fall, and a ladder to help them achieve more. People who believe that we are all created equal and all deserve dignity and respect in our society, regardless of race or disability or sexual orientation or financial portfolio… This speech brought that back to me. Others set the tone so beautifully – Clinton debunked the Republican lies, Biden reminded us just how good Obama is at the hardest job in the nation – but Barack Obama did what he does best. Put our hopes into words, our faith in our country into sharp focus. Highlighted our potential for greatness, brought out the best in our nation. I’ve been struggling to articulate what is so obviously wrong with the GOP platform this year – it lacks empathy, it lacks inclusion… but there was something more I couldn’t name. And Obama named it. CITIZENSHIP. The idea that we have responsibilities, as well as rights, and that through our government, we work together for the good of our community.
[W]e also believe in something called citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.
We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better. We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy. We believe the little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the next Steve Jobs, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States, and it’s in our power to give her that chance….
Because — because in America, we understand that this democracy is ours.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe.
(full transcript at The Washington Post)
That’s what being a Democrat is all about. And we should never be ashamed of it. We ask for common sacrifice for the common good. We don’t hate business, or stifle success – we breed success by fostering dignity and opportunity. I feel at home again, back in the Democratic wing of the Democratic party. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.