Excerpts from President Obama’s speech last night
Really, I think he says it all:
“I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym or — or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.
“You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. (Cheers, applause.) You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. (Cheers, applause.)
“You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home. (Cheers, applause.)
“That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter — (cheers, applause) — the chance to cast their ballots like we did today…
“But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future.
“We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers — (cheers, applause) — a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation — (scattered cheers, applause) — with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.
“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened up by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. (Cheers, applause.)
“We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this — this world has ever known — (cheers, applause) — but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.
“We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag — (cheers, applause) — to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner — (cheers, applause) — to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.
“That’s the — (cheers, applause) — that’s the future we hope for.
“(Cheers, applause.) That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go — forward. (Cheers, applause.) That’s where we need to go. (Cheers, applause.)But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self- government. (Cheers, applause.) That’s the principle we were founded on.
“This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared — (cheers, applause) — that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great. (Cheers, applause.)…
“…I’m not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. (Cheers, applause.)
“America, I believe we can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love (ph). It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. (Cheers, applause.) You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)
“And together, with your help and God’s grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, America. (Cheers, applause.) God bless you. God bless these United States. (Cheers, applause.)