President Elect Barack Obama delivered a soaring speech in Baltimore, MD. At least 35,000 brave souls braved the bitter cold to hear Obama say, “Let’s make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but only the beginning.”
Obama talked about taking up the cause of America’s Revolutionary War patriots, and the current challenges that the nation faces, “We are here today not simply to pay tribute to those patriots who founded our nation in Philadelphia or defended it in Baltimore, but to take up the cause for which they gave so much. The trials we face are very different now, but severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that is faltering. Two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely. A planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.”
Obama called for a new declaration of independence, and borrowed a line from Lincoln, “And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives – from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry – an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.”
The president elect said that there will be failures, frustrations, and false starts, but urged Americans to reclaim their revolutionary spirit, “But we should never forget that we are the heirs of those early patriots, ordinary men and women who refused to give up when it all seemed so improbable; and who somehow believed that they had the power to make the world anew. That is the spirit that we must reclaim today.”
He urged Americans to join the cause of rebuilding the nation towards a more perfect union, “So, Baltimore, starting now, let’s take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union. Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. Let’s all of us do our part to rebuild this country. Let’s make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but only the beginning.”
Obama is embracing the high expectations that are being placed on him. It is no accident that he referenced Lincoln’s appeal to our better angels. While many compare Obama to FDR, the president that Obama is modeling himself after is Lincoln. If this speech was a warm up for his inaugural address on Tuesday, then we are in for something special.
The tasks and Obama is facing are enormous. He has nothing short of the hopes of the nation placed on him, but occasionally events conspire in history to put the right person, in the right place, at the right time. I believe this is exactly what has happened to this nation and Barack Obama. If Obama can half of what is expected of him, he will go down as a great president.