I have been a political junky for more than 50 years. As such, it isn't surprising that I am paying a lot of attention to this presidential election. What is surprising to me, however, is the effect felt after watching and listening to countless Obama stump speeches.
The other day I had just finished mopping my kitchen floor and decided, before starting another household project, to take a five-minute "breather" by turning on the TV and relaxing in my recliner chair. As it turned out, I sat there unmoving for the next 30 minutes utterly transfixed by Obama's speech in Canton, Ohio.
Along with everyone else, I was first introduced to this articulate young man at the 2004 DNC, when he gave the speech of the convention. He completely over shadowed John Kerry, the Democratic candidate at the top of the ticket. I had an inkling then that this "new kid on the block" might be someone who would turn out to be special and that I needed to keep an eye on him.
While the subject matter of Barack Obama's speech, before a packed house in Canton, Ohio, did not break any new ground, as far as programs and initiatives were concerned, it proved to be his summation of his two-year long campaign for the White House, going back to his earlier themes of hope and national unity.
What struck me, not for the first time, was the stark contrast that Obama was painting between himself and his opponent John McCain. Where McCain's message, if he has one because it changes daily, is one of fear and divisiveness, Obama's message is one of hope and unity.
This is the kind of message I am ravenous to hear, following eight long years of precisely the opposite. Let specific policies and political initiatives sort themselves out after he is elected president. Forget about the fear that the Republicans are trying to instill at this eleventh hour of the presidential campaign, fear of a single power in control of the White House and both houses of Congress. After all, it is rather hypocritical to play such a card, since the very people playing it are the same persons who enjoyed precisely that, during the first six years of Bush's presidency.
What I am hearing from Barack is not only soaring rhetoric, but soaring ideas, ideas that may seem quite a stretch today, but in actuality might turn out to be doable, if only we set our minds to it and refuse to allow ourselves to be daunted by the considerable obstacles in our way. As Obama rightly points out, for real change to take place, it must come not only from the government, but from We the People as well. I haven't heard such encouraging words since listening to countless films of FDR's greatest speeches.
Do I believe that Barack Obama is the perfect candidate for president? Of course not! No man or woman is. I have disagreed with him over political issues in the past, and no doubt will do so again, if he, indeed, is elected our next president.
The important thing for all of us to remember, as we cast our ballot (if we already have not done so) next Tuesday, is a chance like this does not come along very often, perhaps no more than once in a generation. So why not take advantage of it and seize the day!