A few days before I heard Obama speak in KC, I was having an e-mail conversation about politics with a friend of mine and he said - "real change will come from the bottom up, not from the top down." I knew this to be true already, and then I heard Obama make it a central theme in his speech, and I knew he was the real deal! He said, "Change will not happen because you elect a new president, change will happen only because all of you decide change will happen."
You can see Barack's entire speech below.
My friend said,"Americans...don't want to have anything to do with real public service." I agree; Obama talked about this subject also. He even had a proposal to give every young American who wants to go to college $4,000/year, and in turn the government will EXPECT that the student give back by volunteering, joining the peace corps, or working in low income hospitals and schools. Not only that, but on the whole, Obama talks about how change will not happen unless we, the American people, take responsibility, and work together. He talks about "hard work and sacrifice."
Another great speech he gave at MLK's church on the day before MLK day - http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/mlkvideo. In this speech he says that we have to look within our own communities and take responsibility for our problems (he was specifically talking about black communities, but I believe the message can be extrapolated). Change and Hope do make good slogans, but Obama understands what change and hope actually MEAN. He is truly uniting people. I could see this just by the crowd last night. It was very clearly a diverse crowd of people of all cultures and ages - and not just a sprinkling of non-white individuals, it was truly a mixing of people, especially of black and white.
Obama is taking a hold of people's hearts and minds - conservatives, liberals, and independents alike(I have conservative Republican friends who have expressed a strong interest in Obama). One reason Obama is having such a powerful effect on America, and the reason he is attracting support from everywhere, is because of the dark mood of hopelessness in the current state of American politics (see this NY Times Article). People know that the state of the union is poor (despite what Bush might say), they know that Partisan bickering is leading us nowhere fast, and they know special interests don't represent the people's interests. This year is a historical campaign. The Clinton's will NOT get away with their negative attacks and traditional campaign tactics; it hurt them in South Carolina, and it (especially Bill's lashing out), will hurt them on Feb 5th. Not to say that Clinton won't carry a few states on Feb 5, but Obama will break through. In the general election, if McCain is the Republican nominee, you will see a more civil campaign. The candidate who sounds most partisan, most negative, and most "Washington" will lose.
Also, Obama explains that the reason he chose to run now (as opposed to in 4 or 8 more years as many thought he would) is because of what MLK said is the "fierce urgency of now." Once again, he shows he understands the true state of our union.
I think Obama coming to KC was a smart move. He gets the most populous parts of two February 5th states. He got Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius' endorsement, and she is obviously a big star in the Democratic Party now. She is a star because she figured out how to win in the middle of the country, in a very traditionally red state. She represents the hope that a presidential candidate can break through too. Obama went to Colorada, Arizona, and New Mexico. He is obviously planning on getting delegates from all the small states. Clinton will get New York, and probably California. But what if Obama gets the rest of the country??? It shows he can win outside the biggest blue states. It shows he has a diverse coalition of supporters.
I was cynical at first, but I am feeling it now. I think we are in truly unique times. We are at a turning point in history. Our true test is now - can we as American's truly turn our country around, and put it back on the right course? Can we clean up politics, our economy, and our environment? Can we renew our status in the world? This is no easy task, but now is our opportunity. I feel an electricity in the air, a surge of real hope, that surrounds Obama. I figure either his candidacy will stand as a historical moment in history - or we have all been hoodwinked.
I was inspired the first time I heard Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I knew then he was different, but could not foresee the Obama "fever" that is taking hold of America. Real change is coming and his name is Barack Obama.