It’s Your Moment Sen. Obama (It’s Ours, Too)

Let’s not kid ourselves: we have reason to be skeptical, tentative, wary, and yes, waiting to be inspired and swept away by someone America can line up behind.

Am I talking about Barack Obama? Am I talking about John McCain? For most readers under this roof, “McCain” and “inspired” will probably make you chuckle, but we’ve learned our lessons from the past, and we certainly can’t count anyone out. That’s certain for Hillary Clinton, who fought for every last half-vote, and that’s certain for Al Gore, whose winning votes, those sweet game winning RBI, were, as we know, not counted on the official scorecard.

In recent weeks, as her campaign for vice president heated up, Hillary Clinton, despite bizarre, racially-tinted, lopsided victories in West Virginia and Kentucky (and one weird pandering victory in Puerto Rico, which, I guess, now has renewed leverage to be a state? That’s a whole different blog post), has signaled reconciliation among the Democratic Party. To be sure, Ed “My Being on TV is Great for Penna Dutch Country” Rendell and Terry “If I Still Had Howard Dean’s Job, I Would Be In The Running For White House Chief of Staff” McCullough, have not sounded particularly enthusiastic about bridging gaps, but Clinton has — albeit in a frustratingly divisive way.

SO, moving on and uniting with my fellow Americans after a messy primary season, I watch Obama kick off his general election campaign with a great sense of hope. No, not that kind of hope. Obama was half right: it’s not just rural white voters clinging to guns and religion who are bitter. There are a whole lot of us who are bitter after eight years of Bush, and, let’s face it, do we really look back so fondly on the Clinton years anymore? (I find it shocking that Bubba did not put the country’s interests ahead of his own by resigning in 1998. I said it. He should have resigned — not for what he did, but for the massive national distraction. We now know, of course, that the Clintons put their interests ahead of lots of things.)

I hope that we are about to have the ingredients to get some things done. After John Kerry lost his bid for the presidency in 2004, Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed about how the Democratic Party needed to stop trying to replace the top of the pyramid and first rebuild the pyramid’s foundation. The party did. In 2006, Democrats won Congress, taking key seats away from Republican strongholds by running fiscal and social conservatives who still believe that government can provide if the right policies are implemented. In 2008, Democrats have the opportunity to complete the pyramid and put into play policies — progressive policies — like reducing greenhouse gas emissions, exploring renewable energy and biofuels, providing comprehensive health care to even the poorest of Americans, and finding long-term solutions to our housing crisis.

Of course, it’s a two-way street. We need to be willing to accept responsibility. Tonight, Barack Obama said “that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs for the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended the War and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”

Heavy stuff. We will be watching, but it’s a good bet that many of us will be doing, organizing, celebrating “the moment,” and helping to make the most of that last, best hope.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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