And so I am reminded of one of the most important speeches given in the 2008 primaries. It wasn't one that Barack Obama gave - but Michelle.
Those who attempt to tap into fear use a different message today than they did back then. These days they're not trying to convince us to support an unnecessary war. But its still fear they're peddling:
- Obamacare is a disaster-in-waiting,
- Putin is a powerful threat to a world community united in partnership against him,
- Telling brown people that they "belong" will threaten our identity,
- Attempts to mitigate climate change will threaten our economy,
- Lifting up those in poverty creates dependence,
- Common sense gun control will only make us vulnerable to the criminal hordes out to get us, and
- Addressing income inequality is class warfare.
But its not just Republicans who peddle in fear. If, as Democrats, our only focus is on fear/anger at what Republicans say/do, we are culpable too. That's why I believe that Eugene Robinson made an important point yesterday.
Democrats now have a positive story they can tell in their campaign ads and speeches: “We promised you that these were the right policies to get the economy on track and reform health care. We said it would take time to see results and asked for patience. You gave us your trust, and now we’re seeing the benefits. This is just the beginning. Give us a mandate to keep moving forward on an agenda that is working.”...That's not superficial optimism. Its the same kind that President Obama summoned way back at the beginning of this journey and is still our legacy today.
Listen up, Democrats. You fixed the economy. You expanded access to health care. Oh, and you ended two wars.
Show a little happiness. It’s contagious.
For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.
It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.