In light of the past few months, I thought I’d take a few minutes to once again, watch Barack Obama’s transformational speech from the 2004 Democratic National Convention and I am struck by three things: 1) At the time of the speech (July 28, 2004) there were “only” 900 dead American service men and women in Iraq while today, 1/23/2009, there are 4,229, according to icasualties.org. 2) My god, can you imagine what the past four years would have been like had the Kerry/Edwards ticket actually won? and 3) I suppose it’s possible that then state senator Barack Obama didn’t have his eyes on the prize, but David Axelrod and other certainly did. This was the mother of all coming out speeches.
I remember watching it back then and being blown away. I was not following politics as closely as I am now and admit to not really knowing him as a rising star in the Democratic Party before the speech, but after? There was no doubt that there was a bright future for Sen. Obama.
I will also admit that until late summer, 2008, I had relatively little hope for the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. My experience as a political junkie and the political and racial history of the United States made his election, to me, an incredibly unlikely thing. Up until the Democratic National Convention in Denver, I had a hard time allowing myself to believe that he could be the nation’s first black president but, turning the phrase on its head, the “perfect storm” made it possible and maybe, just maybe, I under-estimated the open mindedness of the American people.
I say “maybe” because let’s face it, the combination of George W. Bush’s “achievements” and Senator McCain’s choice of Palin to crown an awful campaign cleared the way, at least a little, for the victory that so many of us celebrated with gusto on November 4th and again on January 20th. I say “maybe” because I am not yet convinced we are in a true “post-racial America” (whatever that really means) but I am genuinely ecstatic about the result.
And as for the rest? It’s up to the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama to show us what he’s made of and it’s up to us to do our part.
A little bit of levity for an otherwise bad news Friday, sent to me by my good friend Jeremy and remixed by a friend of his. We may be in a recession, whole industries may be on the verge of collapse and we may be stuck in two, bloody wars, but at least we have….The New Puppy!
One year ago today, November 16th, 2007 my father Victor Rabinowitz passed away at the age of 96. I was in Denver, where I am again heading in a few days. My friends there helped me through a rough night and the following morning and I’m looking forward to seeing many of them again and raising a glass to my dad.
He would have been proud and amazed at what this past year has brought. One of the most amazing political campaigns in history culminating in the election of the first black president and likely, the first time in world history that a majority has elected a minority to lead a country. Truly remarkable.
He spent his his entire life working towards justice for the oppressed, including spending quite a lot of time in the South during the Civil Rights Movement. He was a hero of a magnitude rarely seen these days and had he witnessed the election of Barack Obama it would have warmed his heart to no end.
Here’s what I wrote at the time. It’s been a very fast year and I miss him every day.
No matter what, the times, they are a changin’. How much and for whom is yet to be determined but the fact remains, Tuesday, November 4th was a transformative moment in American history. That said, it’s now time for us to take this advantage that we’ve given ourselves as the electorate and run with it. What’s on the agenda?
Universal healthcare, ending the war in Iraq quickly and safely and fixing the economy in a manner that ensures that the American workforce has high-paying, productive and meaningful jobs, not just low-wage service industry positions, among many other things.
If President-elect Obama is going to fix anything, he’s going to need our help and our vigilance but we’re not going to be able to do it ourselves. 53% and control of the House and Senate ain’t gonna be enough. As the song goes, we’re going to need the senators and congressmen, as well as the mothers and fathers. Their old road may be rapidly aging, but we’ve yet to really pave our new one.
There are signs that the youth of America might be emerging from 40 years of torpor and apathy and I hope so. For those of us in the middle, not yet old and no longer young, it is our job to do what we should have done more than 20 years ago and that’s make our voices heard and make sure those that are becoming active for the first time, those young faces on videos like this one stay active. We must engage them in the process and work of a participatory democracy.
For too long the people of the United States have been silent and for too long we have allowed those in power to erode the constitution and operate without any checks and balances. That time is over. This election was a great first step, but first step it was. Unless we take back the power and the rights that we have given up, piece by piece, since the Reagan “revolution,” the election of Barack Obama, as important, beautiful and historic as it was, won’t achieve its promise and we will have wasted this biggest opportunity we’ve had in decades to change America and the world, for the better.
Bookmark this page, as I’ll be posting often, including pix from the Rabbi Report’s magnificent election night gala, right here on E. 9th St. in Greenwich Village (you know…the place where all the pinkos are).
11:00pm- I have no words. We’ve done it and I’m overcome by emotion. Colorado and Florida, too. 333 electoral vote, so far. I am going to go and be with my friends for a while.
10:20pm-Text from a Fox News staffer to a friend: “Memo sent from McCain campaign: No path to 270.” Well, we already knew it, but man…it’s great to hear the McCain camp say it, even if it’s “secret.”
9:25pm-ABC and MSNBC have called Ohio for Obama. Add that to CA, WA, OR and HI….well, you do the math.
9:21-CNN calls the KY Senate race for Mitch McConnell. Not good.
Losing Pennsylvania and NH is incredibly damaging to McCain.
8:32pm-ABC calls the NC senate for race for Kay Hagan. +3!
8:21pm-Jeanne Shaheen (D) defeats GOP senator John Sununu in NH, so that’s a net pick up of 3 seats for the Dems!
8:15p,-Fox News predicts Liddy Dole, going down in flames in North Carolina. If that’s true, that’s another Senate pick up for the Dems!
8:05pm-Multiple networks call Pennsylvania and NH for Obama. EV counts are now 102-34. CNN, however, has NOT called PA.
7:53pm-Numbers in Florida and Indiana are looking very good for Obama. Track the county by county races here.
7:50pm-Lunsford is only down by 6/10th of a percent, with over 28% of the vote reported in KY. This is really good.
7:30pm-Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina closed. CNN unable to make any predictions.
7:13pm-Bruce Lunsford (D) is giving GOP stalwart Mitch McConnell a run for his money. It’s a 2 point race with 13% reporting. Follow it here.
Adam Kersh colors in Vermont for Obama:
7:04am- Obama wins VT (3 EV) and McCain picks up Kentucky (8 EV). No big surprise, here. Mark Warner wins a senate seat in VA. Dems +1 in the Senate.
6:54pm: Six minutes. Six Minutes. Six minutes, Doug E. Fresh, you’re on!
6:00pm: Polls in most of Indiana and 1/2 of Kentucky are now closed. However, networks will (rightly) not predict until 7:00pm.
4:45pm: The party will feature booze, food and the special Giant Rabbi-Tastic Map™:
Stay tuned for special election night coverage, as we watch this historic night unfold. I might even post some pix or video of special guests changing the colors on the map!