Monday, February 4, 2008

yes we can

Over the weekend I came across a remarkable music video (see below) created by of Black Eyed Peas and Jesse Dylan (Bob's son) and a cast of eclectic celebrities. It actually stars Illinois senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama, delivering part of his New Hampshire post-election speech while and the others sing it and play it along with him.

I find the video remarkable not only because I am a solid Obama supporter, which I am and have been since I first discovered who he was while he was campaigning for the senate primary. I suppose I wouldn't give it a second thought if I did not support him, but since I do, I listened and watched carefully, and I came away moved. Actually touched by something in a political video. To quote Willy Loman: "Isn't that remarkable?"

I think it is the utter sincerity of the entire project, beginning with the words that Obama is speaking after losing the New Hampshire primary. I recall watching him deliver this speech that night and comparing it to Clinton's pretty good victory speech thinking that even in defeat this guy wins the oration event. It was a powerful, poignant, inspirational speech, and it called to mind exactly what Obama wanted it to: the pure idealism of an America unencumbered by the collective memory of the last 45 years of pain and hatred and infighting. The speech invoked the memories of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, sacred figures who could by the sheer force of their beliefs and their personalities help us to believe in something beyond ourselves, in an America that only existed in a Dream.

And the fact that this speech affected these celebrities in this way, that they pretty much spontaneously decided to make it into a music video featuring whoever wanted to show up, and that the ensuing project was created with such obvious love and honesty, just underscores the main reason that I believe so strongly in Barack Obama. It's not so much that he will be a more effective President from Day One than Hillary Clinton. He might be, but how can we know for sure? Neither has ever been tested at anything remotely like this level. Still, I happen to believe that either one could be quite effective if allowed to be. And that, of course, is the rub. Clinton is so disliked by her enemies that, were she to become President, there would be almost the guarantee of a return to the pattern of undercutting and gridlock that has marked Washington political relations for a couple of decades now. That this reaction may not be deserved is not the issue; it is a fact connected to who she is and whom she is married to.

But Obama has no similar baggage, and much lower negatives from every demographic. There is no reason for people--Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans--not to rally behind him. He wears the mantle of the New, and that is a very powerful aphrodisiac among many who are sick and tired of politics as they've always been. But it is not only the fact that he is something new that makes him attractive; he is also a man who seems able to see clearly the steps we need to take to move America past the self-righteousness and the animosity that have characterized our politics for a quarter of a century. He is a man who has demonstrated the ability to work with those on both sides of the table to get things done, being the "uniter" that George Bush only talked about being. He is a man who is capable of rebuilding America's tattered and soiled image abroad and restoring our lost international dignity and reputation as the moral leaders of the free world.

That asks a lot of one man. And in reality it may ask too much. But when I left the voting booth this morning it was the first time in my entire life that I did so with the honest hope that, this time, there really was a chance that such positive changes could happen, that my vote might have such an enormous impact on our future. Others complain of his relative lack of experience. I've noted before what a mess the experienced leaders that our current President surrounded himself with have gotten us into; experience is overrated. Vision is not. Barack Obama has vision. And when he speaks and makes us believe in that vision, when we walk into a voting booth and cast our ballots in sudden hope and expectation instead of the apathy and despair we too often feel about politics as usual, when he brings young people into the fold in numbers greater than at any other time in history because for the first time they see a candidate who gives them the confidence that things as they have been do not have to continue, then it is very easy to understand what and the others felt when they heard that speech.

Yes we can.

Here are the lyrics to Yes We Can, taken from Obama's NH speech:

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.

Yes we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.

Yes we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

Yes we can.

It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

Yes we can to justice and equality.

Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can repair this world.

Yes we can.

We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics...they will only grow louder and more dissonant ........... We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea --

Yes. We. Can.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe one vote in one primary election doesn't mean all that much. But I and millions of others are hoping against hope that this time it really does. Whoever you support, if you are old enough, get out and vote. That's where the hope comes from.



K said...

I just walked out of the voting booth and feel somehow enlightened. I, too, cast my ballot for Obama and can relate to the same sense of hope and confidence that you described. Over the past few weeks, I've admittedly wavered between Clinton and Obama and really wasn't sure who I'd vote for until today. But I woke up (no joke) knowing exactly who that would be- Obama. I've been drawn by his sincerity all along, and while the feminist in me was leaning toward Hillary, my heart was pulling me in the other direction. No matter who wins the democratic nomination, I have no doubt that he or she will do a fine job if elected president (which, let's face it, is what's going to happen..."uh, GOP candidate-who's that??"), but deep down I hope that Obama gets his chance to put his words into action. It's because I know he can.

M said...

I’m enjoying your posts and this new world of blogging. I so appreciate your comments about my first post. It’s great to have that kind of relationship with your daughter, isn’t it? Don’t really know where I’m going with my blog, but I guess I don’t have to. Kind of lost my voice for awhile, that tends to happen when you’ve been tape recorded and followed for years. Finding it again has not been as easy as I thought it would be. Even now, almost seven years after the fact, I still look over my shoulder and wonder if he’s watching or listening. Crazy, right? My first post was a big deal for me. Kind of felt like once I hit that button the world was going to end. But you know what? It didn’t. Turns out this is really sort of freeing, kind of like being in a confessional, except there’s no priest tapping on a black mesh screen and doling out my penance. Anyway, I tend to ramble, but I just wanted you to know that you inspire me with your beautiful prose and that I will check in with you often


it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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