If you missed his speech, you'll want to see the full video and pictures. Barack threw down the gauntlet: 29 policy statements, 19 critiques of McCain. He acknowledged McCain's service as a POW, McCain's love for America and then challenged his ideals, the direction he'd take America and his experience (as not relevant today). He did it without attacking his person. No smears. He took on the issues; he did not use innuendo, negative associations to spurious individuals or malign his relationship to the U.S.A.
That's class. That's how politics are supposed to be done.
Barack's speech laid out a vision of what life in America could be. He described what he calls the "American Promise." I listened with two sets of ears. I remember my Ronald Reagan era thinking. I remember economic conservatism with its theories of opportunity: the rising tide floats all boats, economic trickle down, fewer restrictions on businesses creates more jobs and more freedom in the markets, smaller government means lower taxes, fewer social programs means people are less dependent on government and more able to take advantage of opportunities to create wealth and dignity for themselves, that the market will ultimately determine where jobs should be and that to falsely set wages or protect jobs means to raise prices and slow down economic growth.
I believed all that. There are things about that agenda I still believe. I do agree that the middle class should not carry the biggest tax burden, that government should not be the massive, crippling, dysfunctional miasma that it has become (particularly under Republicans!).
But I do not believe that social programs are merely cover-ups for people who don't care about working. If you live in the burbs and hang out with white middle class people, that rhetoric is easy to accept. It's another story when you spend time (not with the mentally ill homeless, not with the drug addicts, not with criminals) with the poor: people who can't seem to get a break even when they are doing the right things; people who don't have the safety nets that we all take for granted.
I was talking to a friend recently who is Libertarian and her chief concern this time voting is that she "keep all her money." She went on to say that she doesn't see why anyone else should get any of it since she wants to spend it how she wants, not on some government program that is giving welfare to others who won't work.
This is the lie told again and again and again by the right. They pit us against each other. Who (in recent memory) on the right has helped Americans think about how to build a nation that benefits all of us as well as self? Oh Bush talked about compassionate conservatism - I just never saw it in action. One of his ideas was that churches could do what government used to do and then the government could just fund them instead. And so you get irregular help, with strings attached for those looking for help. Non-religious programs doing effective work suddenly lost half their funding (as I learned last week at an Obama event and an AVOC - AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati - worker shared their story).
My point is this. The primary goals of the right at this point in time are to continue the so-called fraudulent war on terror and to prevent raising taxes (after the Republicans have put us into the deepest debt in history through an illegal war).
Obama, on the other hand, offered us a vision of what America is, what her reputation has been and should continue to be. He then outlined a plan to get there. You might not like the plan. But listen to McCain and see what he offers. If it's more of the same, why would you think his is the better future when the evidence of our recent past shows otherwise?
Off to spend the day canoeing. Chat amongst yourselves. Just be civil.