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Obama's Big Finale at the DNC -- Dems Are More Agressive, United Than We've Seen in Years

Progressives had much to savor this week in Charlotte.
 
 
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A display on stage shows U.S. President Barack Obama during day one of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 4. Hundreds of Mormons gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, to campaign for Obama.

 

On Thursday night, Barack Obama strode to the podium and met all of our expectations, capping a week that may have marked a transition for the Democratic Party. But the defining moment of the convention – Obama's official nomination -- wasn't what stood out.

What did is that in 2012, after years of running away from the party's ideology, the Dems seem to have embraced it to a degree we haven't seen in some time. Perhaps we are, at long last, witnessing a backlash against the "backlash right." As the party has so clearly come to occupy the center of American politics -- in large part a result of the Republicans' sharp rightward lurch -- Democrats' usual fear of being labeled “un-American” or accused of stoking “class warfare” was far less evident.

The entire convention was more coherent and united in purpose than the Republicans' party down in Tampa – it just seemed, for the first time in many years, that it was the Democrats who excell at this kind of political theater, while the GOP seemed stiff, and strained, and overwhelmingly negative.

As for Obama's address, we knew he would deliver a rousing speech because he's an excellent orator, and while it wasn't the 'speech of his lifetime' – the president started slow and offered fewer specifics than Bill Clinton had the previous night – it was solid, and at times, inspiring.

We expected Obama to make this election a contest between two competing – and very different – visions for the future rather than a referendum on the economy, and he did. “When you pick up that ballot to vote,” he said, “you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation.” He talked about big decisions to come – on taxes, jobs, deficits, energy policy and education. And then he laid out a defining question for our times: are we citizens or are we just tax-payers? Are we on our own, or are we all in this together? “This is what the election comes down to,” he said.

Over and over, we have been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way; that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and “borrow money from your parents.”

We also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.

We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Because we understand that this democracy is ours. We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

Whereas Clinton offered up red meat, Obama tried to appeal to the very small number of persuadable voters in this election. “No party has a monopoly on wisdom,” he said. “No democracy works without compromise.”

 
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