Thursday, August 28, 2008
"We Are a Better Country than This."
So... it has finally come to pass. Another barrier broken down, another way in which we citizens of the US are just a little more... free tonight.
It has been an interesting Democratic Convention. Like many women of my generation and slightly older, I misted up at the sight of Hillary Rodham Clinton and gave a couple of whoops at various points during her speech. Ted Kennedy, on the other hand, completely undid me... the history behind that man's life of public service.
Joe Biden charmed me all over again with that brilliant smile of his... did any vice presidential candidate ever look like he was having so much fun?
But the week, and of course, the night, belonged to the Senator from Illinois. From the gracious gestures by which he sought to heal the rifts in the democratic party (including having the Senator from New York call for his nomination by acclamation-- beautiful) to his words upon accepting his nomination tonight, the man did what he needed to do. He showed that he has what it takes to lead, not only this country, but this nation.
The words that will stay with me for a long time are these:
You know, 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.
The leaders and the policies of the last 8 years have not called us to be the best we can be. They have appealed to the lowest common denominators of human nature... and, friends, I'm a Calvinist. That stuff ain't pretty. Finally. Finally, we have someone willing and ready to articulate a possibility of generosity and not every one for himself in an ugly zero-sum game. A possibility of unity and not a cynical exploitation of us-vs-them. A possibility that we don't need to conform to one narrow definition of "patriot" or "citizen" in order to have some value in this land. My good sweet Lord, it is about time. High time.
Image: Todd Heisler, The New York Times