When President Obama was elected to his first term, I was completely caught up in Obama fever. I was in India when he was inaugurated. I remember telling my travel agent I didn’t care where we were, or what she’d planned, I was going to be watching TV. As it turned out, we were in the South, in a tiny hill station 7,500 feet above sea level. On a tea plantation in Munnar.
It was quite a remote spot, and I was concerned there’d be no way I’d be able to watch. Happily I was wrong. Our resort had one television set, in a large alcove off the dining room.
And there I was, at 1:30 in the morning, with other tourists from all over the world — Germany, France, London, Australia, Hong Kong, India and me, from Canada — watching CNN live. Not an American among us, interestingly enough.
There we were, a group of total strangers, watching the first black man in history get sworn in, as President of the United States. It was very moving, even more so because of where I was; and because of who I was with. Men and women who couldn’t vote for him, but would have, given the opportunity. Each of us felt the same way. We talked about it. We wanted to be there, in Washington, on that day, anyway. In spirit. Symbolically.
Barack Obama had touched all of us. So much so, we were compelled to be part of the history that surrounded his Presidency. We wanted to be there, as it happened. To witness it for ourselves, even if it meant staying up half the night.
During his four years as President, there were many times I became disenchanted. Often I wondered where the man who campaigned so passionately, who offered hope and promised change, had gone.
Well yesterday, I saw him again.
His speech will be dissected for days and weeks and months and, possibly, even years to come. It will be torn apart. He’ll be criticized. Questioned. Scorned. But not by me. As I watched, and as I listened, I fell in love with him all over again. Because yesterday, President Barack Obama drew a line in the sand.
With passion and poise, eloquence and dignity, determination and courage, he sent a powerful message to the world: “I am not going to be pushed around any more. This is where I stand.”
This was not a wishy-washy message. It was definitive. Defining. Polarizing.
But he spoke the truth.
I love how he linked his ideals and values, right back to the very ideals and values the United States of America was founded upon. I love how he linked his ideals and values, and those of Dr. Martin Luther King, to those of the founding fathers.
I love how he equated the issues of gay rights and immigration reform facing our generation, with the issue of equality, which faced those who came before us.
I love how he reminded one and all, of the shared duty and responsibility every U.S. citizen has, to make the rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness real for every American. How they are as valid and true today, as they were when they were first articulated more than 200 years ago.
He’s convinced me he’s going to be tough, this time around. That he won’t back down. That while he knows four years isn’t enough time to accomplish everything, he has every intention of accomplishing something. And you know what? I believe him.
Because yesterday he declared he was prepared to do battle. What he needs, is for the American public to back him up. To join forces, and then join him. To raise their collective voices so loudly, the naysayers are forced to listen. And if they do, we may just see a new and improved America. An inspired America. An inspiring America.