Friday, August 29, 2008

McCleary Boy goes to the big city

Yours truly had the experience of watching the Obama acceptance speech in Seattle last night with about 500 dyed-in-the-wool supporters. The reason this McCleary boy ventured up to the big city to hear this speech was not exactly clear to me when I went. One reason was that I heard there would be beer there. Generally that is a powerful "Matt attractant" in itself but there was more to the 120 mile round trip than that. I just couldn't give words to it.

It might help to know that I had not taken a big gulp from the Obama Kool-aid bucket yet. I have certainly witnessed the snowballing effect his campaign has taken with people around me from all walks of life. I wanted to like the Kool-aid, but couldn't get there.

I have been an Edwards fan. I liked the message he carried about the worlds richest getting that way on the backs of the every day working stiff. When he was out my philosophy turned to "any blue will do" because ANYBODY would be better than the status quo.

I worried that Obama didn't have the roll-a-dex that any president would need to draw on to bail us out of the mess this nation is in. Even a great player needs a great team and great coaches to pull off the big game. I didn't think Obama had been around enough to have made the connections he would need. I make it a point to talk to as many folks as I can about what they think. My favorites are people who don't pay that much attention to politics and kind of play it by their gut. Virtually everyone I ask agrees that the country is in a world of hurt. Who's fault they think it is varies greatly. There are lots of them that were allot more unsure than I have been about what they were going to do come election time.

As I listened to Barack Obama give his acceptance speech, I watched the hundreds of people in the room nod their heads in agreement, many shed tears as their experience was validated by what Barack was saying. Then I realized that my head was nodding too. As he described the nation and world he saw and the problems we all face, I found myself thinking, "yup, that is exactly how it is" or "bam, he hit that one out of the park". He and his team have negotiated this campaign and this important moment in time masterfully. I found myself very impressed with the grace and dignity with which he communicated what was probably the most important moment in his life. There was no "fear tactics", and very little emphasis on blame for the situation. Rather, a focus on optimism and faith in the hope that what has always made us great will get us through this too. if we focus on the moment instead of getting caught up in distractions we can move forward. I like that message, and when I think about it that approach has always worked for me personally.

After Barack concluded and I was driving home I realized another reason besides the beer that had gotten me up to the big city I would usually avoid like the plague. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was given 40 years ago last night. I have always held Dr. Kings words with great reverence. It has always been the most powerful piece of oration I have ever heard, with a message that can still bring a tear to my eye. Barack is being compared to JFK, and Dr. King by the media quite often. I have always thought that that was a bold comparison. I wanted to hear Barack say what he had to say on this symbolic day and bring it on. If he could impress me enough to allow his name in with the likes of Dr. King, then my figurative hat is off to him.

Well readers(both of you;-), I believe he did it. There was a different style, in a different time. And he did that by showing the ultimate respect for Dr. King by not trying to exploit the day. He only vaguely made reference to Dr. King in the speech but, for me, he captured the same elements of goodness, style and faith in the American people that Dr. King did 40 years ago.

The gift that both Obama and Dr.King have is that they were both able to inspire this McCleary boy to get off his semi-large arse and do something. The enemy here is, and has always been, the apathy monster, who tricks folks into not participating and letting others make decisions for them. Barack and Dr. King are facilitators, we, the people are the big (I prefer red) wave of Kool-aid that does something to change the status quo. Stay in the moment, keep moving forward...

Turns out I went up there to drink beer, but ended up drinking the Kool-aid.

I hope you listen to the speech. Alia used her technical prowess to provide a link to it in the entry she did prior to this one. I invite your feedback.

Have a great labor day!

1 comment:

wfseLPA said...


Great post, Z.