On Wednesday, Jeff got a text from an old high school friend asking if he’d like tickets to the DNC on Thursday. Of course he said yes, please and thank you, and yesterday we took our 3 girls to hear Barack Obama speak. Joey is getting herself quite the homeschool education, I’m proud to say. And, Scott, you are my new hero.
When I watch TV at home, especially political stuff, I tend to yell things, both good and bad, at the TV. It was nice to be in a crowd of people who were all yelling along with me.
So, just in case you missed it, I’ve included the speech here. You might just be moved to tears. Myself, I was moved to sobs. Big, choking sobs.
Not only was I inspired to be a better American, to do more for my country, but I was also inspired to be a better person and a better mother. And I did snap a picture of Jeff waving the American flag like crazy. When I threatened to send it to all his relatives in Canada, he said, “Of my 40 years of life, I’ve spent 31 of them here.” And I realized that he's a product of the American education system almost as much as I am. He’s worked and raised children and paid taxes. He's watched our political system and not been able to vote, but he’s paid close attention and cared, which is more than I can say for many Americans. No, I don’t think he’ll be declaring his American citizenship (he still has dreams of us moving back to Canada one day, as soon as his American children are grown) but if anything could make him change his mind, I think it would be that speech last night.
Some of my favorite points of the day…
-Along the long walk to Mile High, one cop was barking orders at a massive crowd of us. A block later another officer was holding a sign that read, “Stay Positive.” Up until that point, many of us had been grumbling about the walk (they unexpectedly made us exit the lightrail train one stop early, which resulted in an extra mile added to the walk). But this particular officer just held his sign and smiled and kept repeating, “There will be no negativity in this line.” I think every single one of us smiled along with him. And I was reminded again that it really is all about the attitude (and also that we, in America, are some of the luckiest people in the world).
-A picture of Barack and Michelle on a couch on their wedding day. I couldn’t find it anywhere, but it’s in the photo tribute they showed before the speech. (Can't find that either. Oh, internets, you have let me down.)
Update- Christine, thank you so much for the link to the photo tribute. (And it's OK internets, I love you again. Don't scare me like that, though.)
-The speech, obviously. There are more parts to Obama’s speech than I could do justice to here. I’d be thinking, “Oh, great point. I’ll have to remember it,” and then I’d be so moved by something else he was saying that I’d completely forget the previous thought. His speech wasn’t just about the highest American ideals, but truly universal, human ideals. Luckily someone was courteous enough to write it all down for us. (And in case you couldn't figure it out, all italics are from the speech, not the entire speech mind you, but some of my favorite bits.)
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 to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
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 five million dollars 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 one hundred 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.
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. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
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 twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.
You make a big election about small things.
This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
Throughout the speech, I just kept thinking how much my mom would have loved this man. How he seems to see the best in people and is able to inspire others to do the same. My mother also had a gift for seeing the best in people. And like Barack’s mother (who also died of cancer when she was way too young) she taught her children to always try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and realize that we have more in common with others than we realize. She taught us that it’s important to be kind and to play fair. And whether I’ve always lived up to her teaching, I’ve done my damnedest to pass that along to our children.
I love the idea of a president with those same ideals.
After the speech, Joey asked if she could come with me when I vote because she wants to help cast a ballot for Obama.
(And, I promise that this isn’t about to become a political blog, unless, of course, we get tickets to Obama's inauguration. Heh heh. I’ll be back to the regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with pictures from Aurora’s kickball party. Thanks for your indulgence.)