Exactly one year ago I wrote of the disjunction between the ideals American professes and the reality it embodies.  That was the second anniversary of hurricane Katrina and the day after the 44th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in which he said “one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.”

On that day, I despaired that “we are a long way from such an uprising.”

Today, on the third anniversary of hurricane Katrina and the day after the 45th anniversary of King’s speech, we are a very large step closer to such an uprising: 84,000 people were present and millions more watched, like me, with pride and, yes, hope, as Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States.
The speech weaved the idea of the promise of America into a tough, compelling and powerful argument for change.  I was glad to hear Obama himself come out strongly against the fear mongering and hateful attacks of the McCain campaign.
I was glad to hear the specific changes Obama proposes: 
  • “In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
  • “I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy.”
  • “Now is the time to meet our moral obligation to provide every child with a world-class education.”
  • “Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable accessible health care for every single American.”
  • “I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission … I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century…”
But what struck me most, what encouraged me most, was the way Obama took the ethical values question away from the Republicans and reframed it in terms of our responsibilities to one another. He did this when he emphasized that the promise of America has less to do with what we own and more to do with what we owe one another:

“What is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect… 

That’s the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. 

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now.”

Today we are a step closer to living out the meaning of our creed, to bringing the ideals of American into closer connection with our reality.  

But we still have a way to go, so keep marching, or to channel Hillary channeling Harriett Tubman, keep going, keep going … now to the voting booth!
Click here to register to vote.

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