In a convention packed with amazing stories and amazing speeches — I highly recommend viewing Rep. John Lewis‘ moving speech — President Obama delivered a stirring, concise argument for his re-election on Thursday night. In his trademark style, he acknowledged the hard times while motivating Americans to look with optimism to the future.
It was good to see our president in a commanding position, something he reminded us of when he mentioned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the killing of Osama bin Laden. He is the president. He is the Commander-in-Chief.
I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over.
A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
But I also enjoyed the moment, however brief, when the president cracked a joke or two:
Now, our friends down in Tampa, at the Republican convention, were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right.
They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they had to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years:
“Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.”
“Deficit too high? Try another.”
“Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning.”
Obama did a great job of drawing a clear line between what his administration stands for and what a Romney administration would stand against.
We don’t think the government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that the government is the source of all our problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.
Because — because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
He hit the bullet points — women, LGBT equality, war, jobs, and the economy. Although, I admit, I liked Vice President Joe Biden‘s reference to these points better, in which he said:
And a future where women control their own choices, health, and destiny.
A future where no one—no one—is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance.
And he left us with a charge to have faith and vote our conscience.
But President Obama did what he does best. He reminded us why he is known as the Hope and Change candidate. He reminded those who, perhaps, have become disenfranchised with him, or the system, or even that things will get better, that nobody is in this alone. That we are stronger together. The implication being, of course, that the Republicans believe there is no “we” and that their script is that you succeed or fail on your own. Perhaps the best line from this speech (besides the tax joke) comes in this final paragraph in which Obama reminds us that in America “We leave no one behind”:
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.
While I can’t say if this speech will win Obama another four years, it is clear already that he has the nation talking. The tweets-per-minute peak of President Obama’s speech, at nearly 53,000, far exceeded any other speech at either political convention. By comparison, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, and Gov. Mitt Romney peaked at 28,000, 22,000, and 14,000, respectively. Likewise, there were an estimated 9 million tweets coming from the Democratic National Convention compared to a much lower 4 million from the Republican National Convention.
Now the gloves come off and we enter the final throes of this campaign season. If it were decided today, based on the performances of these two political conventions, the winner should be Democrats. But I’ve been around politics long enough to know, you just never can tell how things are going to go until the final ballot is counted.
One thing I am sure of: The show is not over, yet. And it’s anybody’s game.