Four years ago, Senator Barack Obama traveled a road that ultimately led him to the White House by riding on a message of Hope and Change that promised to change American politics for a generation; and perhaps, forever. It was a promise of a new future; a new era; of a government open and responsive to the people it served. It was a dream wrapped in a vision. It was inspiring. It was refreshing. It was new.
Four years later, President Obama is once again traveling on that road to the White House; this time carrying with him the baggage of a first term that has been anything but open or responsive. With his message of Hope and Change now battle tested and tried; words like new, and inspiring, and refreshing seem odd even to the most objective among us when they are used to describe what four more years could look like under a second Obama administration. Dreams unfulfilled. Promises broken. A political atmosphere that is not any more transparent; not any more responsive; not any different. An economy still struggling to find its legs. Social issues still producing 50/50 gridlock. A post-racial era in American politics still looking more like a more like a sunny forecast on a rainy day than anything else. Growing deficits and mounting debt outpaced only by a deficit in the collective American confidence.
Thursday night, as he accepted his party's nomination in Charlotte, President Barack Obama once again asked the American People to follow him down that road. And once again, he was riding on HOPE and CHANGE.
Another round of Hope and Change?
Only this time he's changing the cast; the roles; and even the script. Hope and Change Part II is no longer just about one man, a promise, and a vision of a new future. It's about "YOU." You are the Change. "You're the reason."
You're the reason...
You're the reason...
You're the reason...
If you turn away now – if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible…well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.
Yes, you. You are the change. You are the reason. In fact, he's now saying it was YOU all along.
So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens – you were the change.
Didn't get the memo?
Yeah me neither.
I suppose that makes it easier to explain away four years and justify a record with but three stated accomplishments - GM is alive, bin Laden is dead, and Obama Care is in the books. I almost forgot, they don't like to talk about the third one there. I stand corrected. It makes it easier to explain away and justify a record with but two stated accomplishments.
You see? YOU failed. It's Your fault. You just didn't do enough. You've only completed half the job. You're only half way there.
Better get to work... Better get to steppin.
FOUR MORE YEARS!
As I watched the President's speech Thursday night, I have to admit I had a sinking feeling that at any moment he was going to drop something profound, game-changing, headline grabbing that could potentially change the race and turn things in his favor, for good. After twenty minutes of listening to a fantastical account of his time in office and his plans for the next four years, I was beginning to lose trust in my gut. Don't get me wrong. I was thankful; but I was somewhat surprised I'd overestimated Mr. Obama.
The first half of the speech was nothing more than a well-delivered attempt at sounding as vague and non-ideological as humanly possible. If someone out there was hearing Barack Obama for the first time, it would have been easy to assume his ideology was some strange amalgam of conservative principles and liberal cornerstones. In one breath he spoke of individualism, faith, and family; and then in the next he spoke of shared sacrifice, government safety nets, and the common good. He was everything to everyone and nothing to no one. It was truly Hope revisited.
Too bad, for President Obama, that we now have four years of a record that tells us Hope really only means the second half of that list... and all the bumpy roads that come with it.
And then he moved to the partisan portion of the speech. And that was to be expected. It was, after all, a speech at his party's national convention. Did you really think he would simply pass on an opportunity to attack Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan?
Of course not.
This portion, which ran roughly the next ten minutes of the speech, was riddled with the typical anti-Romney talking points. He's rich. He wants to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. (Even more ridiculous considering "rich" means $250,000+ whenever Obama speaks about it. I guess that's a numbers thing; or maybe just a liberal thing.) Back to Romney. He wants to give corporations tax breaks and reward them for shipping jobs overseas. (Obama promises corporations "incentives." I don't know how, but I guess he believes there's a difference). Romney has no clue what lower and middle class Americans go through on a daily basis and he wants to kill any program upon which they currently rely. Oh yeah, and he wants to make college an institution reserved for only the really really rich. The rest of you are screwed. Goodbye student loans, grants, and scholarships. Hello Chinese bosses.
He also spent a piece of this time patting himself on the back.
For what, you ask? For everything, of course.
In fairness, he did stop short of claiming to have lowered sea levels and saved planet. (Another promise undelivered.) But he did tell the American People that heightened fuel standards would make cars "go twice as far on a gallon of gas" - in the next ten years. Too bad gas prices have doubled under his administration. I guess we'll have to give him TEN MORE YEARS to really appreciate that one.
He killed bin Laden, targeted terrorists behind 9/11, raised a tower in Lower Manhattan, and ended the war in Iraq. I guess he hopes we'll overlook the fact that he tried to prosecute 9/11 terrorists just around the block from said tower, dropped the ball on the rest of the Middle East and the Arab Spring, and began his time in office by apologizing to the global community for this great country and promising to have an open dialogue with Iran. Not to mention pulling the plug on missile defense, bowing to China, overlooking gun-running to Mexico and ignoring drug cartel violence on the border, North Korea, Libya, Syria... and the list goes on. And I almost forgot - GITMO. Didn't he say he was going to close that place?
The grand finale was dedicated to the other half of the Hope and Change Redux - HOPE. He told the story of a homeless child who won a science fair while living in a homeless shelter; a wounded warrior recovering after dutiful service; a business owner that sacrificed in tough times to keep the doors open and the community thriving. He said they give him HOPE.
I'll leave the rest to him...
"I don't know what party these men and women belong to. I don't know if they'll vote for me. But I know that their spirit defines us. They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a 'future filled with hope.'"
And if you share that faith with me – if you share that hope with me – I ask you tonight for your vote.
If you reject the notion that this nation's promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.
If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November.
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.
There it is folks.
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder – but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer – but we travel it together. We don't turn back.
YOU ARE THE CHANGE.
The road is long, but there's no turning back.
Someone show him how to MapQuest directions to Chicago. He's on that road alone. Let him own it.
HOPE AND CHANGE Part II?
I didn't even like the first one.
[Full Transcript Here...]