So, having missed Obama's DNC speech when it originally aired, I took some time out of my Sunday to listen to it.
I have to admit that this point I'm kind of tuning out on the economics when people give these speeches. It seems like both sides can manipulate the numbers on job creation and the economy to either make Obama look terrible or to defend what he's done. And I realize that there are a whole lot of people that think that this election should be about nothing but the economy, but if I was a voting American, I wouldn't be one of them. So there's my bias going into this (like anyone who reads regularly doesn't know that I'm biased towards the Democrats, but it's good to get these things out there.)
Now, all that being said...if I was an undecided voter - say, the Canadian just starting to learn about American politics that I was four years ago - I think I would have found Obama's speech a little confusing. I was a little confused by it myself after following American politics and Obama's message for four years. I felt like I had to fight too hard to put the pieces together.
Clinton Nailed It
When Clinton put it in front of me, I got it: "If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden." Maybe it's because I'm Canadian (and therefore socialist, I'm told), but that got my heart a-thumpin'.
And I eventually got that message listening to Obama's DNC speech as well. But I had a couple of "Where's he going with this?" moments before he got there, when he was talking about:
- How America was all about "the promise that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules"
- How Americans "insist on personal responsibility, and we celebrate individual initiative. We're not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known."
I went and found these passages in particular in a transcript of Obama's DNC speech, because they really threw me off. I understand that he's talking about the American Dream. I thought that Obama understood, however, that there's a large segment of the American population (and the bulk of people with disabilities fall into this category) that get a much more limited shot at at the American Dream because of the place they occupy in society and the resources available to them because of the place that they occupy on society. And I'm not just talking about monetary resources. I'm talking about having advocacy skills to help get your kid with disabilities into a good school, for example, or the confidence in herself that a woman needs to get herself out a domestic abuse situation. There are all kinds of "capital" in this society.
Obama's DNC Speech: Bottom Line
Like I said...Obama's DNC speech eventually struck a chord in my idealistic heart. He deserves kudos for addressing education, the student loans programs and for renewing his commitment to health care reform and to strengthening Social Security. I think his appeal to being good citizens was his way of trying to tie it all to Party values neatly and concretely, as Clinton did...but I really did feel like I had to work a whole lot harder to get there.
And there was no mention in Obama's DNC speech of people with disabilities. I won't hold this against him. You can't mention everyone in one speech.
But Clinton worked us in. Just sayin'.
Transcript of Clinton's DNC Speech: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/us/politics/transcript-of-bill-clintons-speech-to-the-democratic-national-convention.html?pagewanted=all&_moc.semityn.www
Transcript of Obama's DNC Speech: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/06/transcript-obama-speech-at-dnc/