President Obama is one of the few people equipped to handle such a task, and he did not fail to deliver Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention. President Obama laid out a vision for America that seemed to transcend the next four years and strike a chord reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s inspirational overtures of America entering a new frontier.
The prelude to the president’s speech was a wisely crafted video of Biden, Clinton, and the first lady, all known as great emotional connectors, talking about the president on a personal level and highlighting the achievements of his first term. He led off by making clear that the election in November will be, “a choice between two fundamentally different visions for America.” Arguing that Republicans’ remedy for all of America’s economic ills is tax cuts, he quipped that if you had a cold, the Republicans’ prescription would be to, “take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning.”
He also fought back against attacks painting him as a big government liberal who desires to pass out no questions asked welfare checks by stating that we don’t want “handouts for people who don’t help themselves.” And in one of the most memorable lines of the speech he stated that although, “we don’t think that government can solve all of our problems, we also don’t think it is the source of all of our problems.” Both lines seemed to be targeted towards independent and conservative voters but also designed to firmly declare his belief in old-fashioned American values.
Facing a tough economic climate in an election year made it crucial for the president to also declare the specifics of his vision for America if elected to another term. In contrast to Mitt Romney’s convention speech, Obama discussed ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the duty to take care of veterans when they come home. There was also much more meat in Obama’s speech regarding foreign policy,including a lighthearted jab at Romney for “insulting our closest ally” during his Olympic visit.
On the home front, the president pledged to use defense cuts for “nation building” and to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers and add one million new manufacturing jobs within the next four years.
The most poignant line of the entire speech was probably when he stated that in America, “we believe in something called citizenship” and accepting the “obligations that we have to one another.” It was a marked difference between a message of you are on your own versus we are in this together.
This was a candidate imploring voters to return to that hopeful spirit of 2008 to help build a better and more inclusive nation. If voters were questioning why they bought into the hope and vision of this candidate, he just reminded them in a big way.