Audacity in Denver
The last time we saw so many fellow Americans gathered at a stadium for something other than football was in New Orleans after Katrina three years ago.
In the Superdome then were citizens who felt dispossessed upon learning the horrifying truth about the government's tardy and disorganized response to their plight.
Certainly, there was no "happy talk" when the leader of the Free World and Republican Party, President George W. Bush, trumped his poor judgment abroad in Iraq with his horrible judgment at home with Katrina.
Three years ago in New Orleans, we saw glaring reminders of what is wrong with America, some of which can be traced to the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004.
In Denver last week, where Democrats nominated Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden to lead them, were reminders of what is right with America. Denver showcased the audacity of hope; New Orleans presented the awfulness of haunts.
In the Superdome in New Orleans were some of the worst of times. In and around Denver's Invesco Field were among the best of times. Hillary Clinton got her well-deserved bona fides, and Barack Obama became the first African-American to lead the ticket of a major political party. Along with compromise and hope came a blueprint for the future and a formidable partnership in Obama-Biden.
Our nation needs signs of intelligent life from Washington, an end to an unnecessary war, and military might when it is needed and diplomacy when it is not. The world has gotten more dangerous, and the old adversaries are realigning.
As Obama said in Denver, "America, now is not the time for small plans."
Obama offered common-sense ideas about taxation and plain-spoken solutions for energy, the economy, foreign threats and disparate health care and education. The orator abandoned his famous eloquence, which would have played well in a stadium environment. Instead, he held an intimate conversation with more than 84,000 people at the stadium and many more across America.
"America, we are better than these last eight years.
That was no acceptance speech; it was a State of the Union address.
We are not "a nation of whiners," as claimed Phil Gramm, John McCain's economic adviser and future Treasury pick (if he wins in November). We are not experiencing a "mental recession." Likewise, Obama is not what critics say he is.
Yet if, even after reintroducing himself in Denver, people claim not to know who he is, it is not for his or his party's lack of trying.
Along with the audacity of hope, Obama supporters came to Denver with the reality of their own disrupted lives. Before Obama spoke, Barney Smith was among working-class supporters who addressed the crowd, and he declared we need a president "who will work for Barney Smith, not Smith Barney." Ex-Republicans also took the stage to explain why they are backing Obama-Biden.
Obama and Biden did not sow the seeds of discontent with anti-government rhetoric or left-wing radicalism. They delivered a tough centrist message with moderation, something unexpected. They indicated they would fight fairly, even if Republicans do not. Questions about patriotism would be taken off the table.
Like Obama, the people who want him for president "get it." They get that government cannot solve all their problems any more than it could stop the hurricane that washed away New Orleans or the twister that flattened Greensburg, Kan.
But government, Obama said, "should do that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. Government must also own up to its failures."
Obama and Biden insist they need not further divide America to win in November. They intend to stand tall, not stoop to conquer. The old ways, Obama insisted, do not work. Come November, we'll see.
Rhonda Chriss Lokeman (RCLCreators@kc.rr.com) is a contributing editor to The Kansas City Star. To find out more about Rhonda Chriss Lokeman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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