A Cautious Man
July 27, 2004
Where There's a Fight Against the Blood and Hatred in the Air
If you did not catch Barack Obama's speech before the Democratic Convention, I feel sorry for you.
For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief - I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper - that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
That's what we've been waiting to hear, isn't it? That all of these elements, these interests, these needs and beliefs reside throughout the U.S., and are not the exclusive province of a few, a few who need to tell the rest of us how "wrong", or "bad", or "un-American" we are. Unfortunately, that's a message that the current Administration is congenitally unable to convey - because it goes against everything that their strategy is built on.

[UPDATE on 7/28] The speech was so good, that Administration apologists are trying to claim that it wasn't a "real" Democratic speech, but was more conservative. It's good to know that the idea of "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" is at the heart of the Republican Platform. Be that as it may, there's a comprehensive review of this angle at Daily Kos.



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