A more perfect union
Change is difficult and even excruciating, he was saying, but the sine qua non of self-improvement is moving beyond fatuous news cycles that inflate the significance of whether he was in the pew when the Rev Wright raged away; and deflate the importance of confronting the inter-racial suspicion that underscores both Wright's anger and Obama's grandmother's fear, and thus perpetuates the evils of ignorance, poverty and segregation.
Barack Obama talked to Americans on Tuesday, as I said, as if they were adults. He did unto them, to adapt a closing line from a speech the commentator Andrew Sullivan called deeply Christian, as he would have them do unto him. Whether Americans have the capacity to respond as adults, or whether they cling to the comforting blanket of sideshows like the ranting Rev Wright, will go as far as anything towards deciding the Presidency.Matthew Norman in the Independent
Now watch the video - over 2.5 million views since Tuesday, the most popular video on Youtube - is a political speech. I cannot say how much it means to me to see this: a politician who speaks hopefully, truthfully, inspiringly, who people are excited about. The mere idea of being political or trying to get involved in politics has been so tainted, so spoiled by cynicism, apathy, frustration, resentment these last years that it is actually shocking to see this man, in the running to be one of the most powerful men in the world opening his mouth and talking like this.
I remember the last time I felt such hope, that surging sense of possibility, that change could come.
It was at That March, that million-plus-march five years ago, when I saw the sound and size and fury of so many people, so many different people standing against the war, shuffling for peace on a raw early spring day. Grandmothers, students, children, parents pushing prams, old men in military medals, nuns and priests, imams, rabbis, people veiled and bearded and turbanned and dreadlocked and hair-gelled and pink-cheeked and brown-eyed and shivering, stamping, drumming, whistling, trudging, passing about hip-flasks, hoping, hoping, that we would step back from a bloody and brutal and morally compromised war. At that march I saw political engagement of a kind I had never seen before, the sheer thundering jawdropping numbers - I had been to many marches before, several in the months running up to the war - but that one was special. It was intoxicating, how could they not pause, and look at this righteous anger of voters, and tremble?
But they took no notice, because of course we were far too late. We should have stormed the streets a year before, when Bush told Blair of his plans as they strode around in too-tight blue jeans at the President's ranch.
And it wilted, it soured, that hopeful, angry, passionate can-do, might-work re-ignited politics of the street shufflers: if they can ignore that many of us, people said, then what is the point?
Well, there is a point. But you have to believe that change is possible.
Which is why Obama is important.
Labels: hope not hate