August 29, 2008

Obama the Promise of Change

On August 28th 1963 the Reverend Martin Luther King gave a memorable speech to a crowd of multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith people who crowded into a football stadium to hear him speak.

Why did they go? Because they wanted to witness history in the making, to be part of something bigger than one person, to see a man with shared values stand up for what they believe in: The American Dream.

Exactly 45 years later, Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States and made his own speech to an overcrowded stadium of 85,000+ Americans. Why are they they there? To witness history in the making once more.

Obama's theme? The American Promise.

"America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

"This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight."

"On November 4th, we must stand up and say: Eight is enough."

Some of the people in the crowd are old enough that they were at both speeches and can draw parallels between the two. But where Rev. Martin Luther King dwelled on racism frequently, Barack Obama describes himself as post-racial and doesn't constantly remind people of the colour of his skin.

Obama's key points is that he is a man of change, of promise, and most importantly, he's not like Bush. If anything he's the anti-Bush. No more shooting first, asking questions later. No more preemptive strikes and wars without evidence or legitimate reason. If the United States goes to war with Iran, it will be because Iran's leadership has become violent and needs to be removed. Not because the White House trumps up threats with phony documents about WMD.

Did Bush lie to the American people? Yes, but its a bit like asking permission to do something after you've already done it. Its too late now. Bush will be gone 4 months anyway. Americans have paid the price and will continue to pay the price for not paying more attention to what their leaders are doing. American troops and finances will be bogged down in Iraq for years if not decades.

Obama's opponent John McCain meanwhile has been trying to distance himself from the fact that he's basically a carbon copy of George W. Bush, but without the Bush family wealth and aloofness to back him up. Does America really want to make the same mistake a third time?

In the words of George W. Bush himself: "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. A fooled man can't get fooled again."

Or can they?

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