Reason #9: He’s Even Better Live…

It’s one thing to watch Obama speak on TV or read his words in articles and blogs. It’s quite another to see him in person.

My friend Alicia has connections, so we were admitted into the small grassy plot immediately in front of the podium in Denver’s Civic Center Park Sunday morning. Obama has a relaxed yet commanding presence, even standing in front of a crowd of over 100,000 people that stretched all the way up the capitol steps on the other side of the park.

First of all, his occasional jokes add levity to the grave concern we all feel about this election, rather than contribute to the hail of lowbrow insults being lobbed by the McCain camp. He said, “McCain even called me a socialist, and then he claimed that my economic policies were just like George Bush’s…. seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!” Then he neatly segued, “Well, I can put up with nine more days of attacks from the McCain campaign, but you can’t afford to put up with four more years of failed policies.”

Secondly, Obama’s skill as a teacher lends a unique element to his speeches. This is what I want, indeed crave, in a president. I want an intelligent president who is knowledgeable enough on the issues to actually be able to explain what they mean–as Clinton was able to do–rather than fill speech lines with bluster and obfuscation–as you-know-who is only capable of doing.

I also greatly appreciate his acknowledgment that government policy cannot succeed in making the changes to education and health care that the country needs, but that individuals must be responsible and do their own part. This sense of a national community working together toward collective goals and holding the government accountable inspired what I thought was his best line of the day: “We need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, not wait for it to be done from the top down.”

And finally, Obama’s appeal to think beyond ourselves to the next generations moved me to tears (OK, I am a bit hormonal right now…). It was something about the way he talked about parents who sacrifice so their children can go to college, and how they shouldn’t have to choose between paying their monthly bills and paying for their children’s healthcare. Even though my grandmother went to university, after the death of my grandfather in WWII she worked two jobs as a single mother of three throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. She was always a model of frugality and generosity to me, and the thought of her then made me feel proud.

There was also that undercurrent at the rally that made me feel linked to those around me in witnessing an historic moment and silently promising to think about things in a new way. Being pregnant, I was tempted to chalk it up those hormones I previously alluded to, but I welcomed these emotions–what else inspires us to do better by our fellow human beings in the short lives we live?

Oh, and one more thing: When Obama first began his speech and the crowd started chanting, “Yes we can!” Obama immediately added, “Si se puede!” Music to the ears of Colorado Latinos, labor unions and workers (who were out in force publicizing their opinion on the ballot initiatives), and those of us who work in Latin America–a tribute to the late great Cesar Chavez who fought for the democratic rights of all workers and all people.


– Carol C., soon-to-be mother who lives in Boulder but imagines herself more a part of the global community than just a US citizen.


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