Friday, May 30, 2008

Yes. We. Can.

From January 9th, 2008

When I came home to see OBAMA WINS IOWA on my hotel TV screen I started for the first time in my young life to feel hope. I was desperately hoping for it, I even thought it would happen. But deep inside I never really expected it too. Over the next few days I basked in the victory and relished the increasingly likely possibility that Obama would cruise to the nomination. Then their was New Hampshire. Again I was not prepared for the outcome. I was crushed. How could New Hampshire, the state that seemed to be Obama's base, hand him the loss? I just didn't know how it could have happened. I didn't know what to do or what to think.

Then Barack Obama took the stage.

In that speech he articulated a powerful vision for the future. He called for a New American Majority in his speech.

You can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long
political darkness - Democrats, Independents and Republicans who are
tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington; who
know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand
that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence
that's stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something
better, there's no problem we can't solve - no destiny we cannot

And what will that great new majority do?

Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable,
unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and
patients; workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together;
and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that while they'll get
a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. Not this
time. Not now.

Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our
jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the
working Americans who deserve it.

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame
and start putting them on a pathway to success. We can stop talking
about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their
greatness. We can do this with our new majority.

We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists; citizens and
entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our
planet from a point of no return.

And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our
troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan;
we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in
the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes,
because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that
should unite America and the world against the common threats of the
twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change
and poverty; genocide and disease.

And then he admitted

All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All have good
ideas. And all are patriots who serve this country honorably.

But that's all normal stump speech right? Next he started talking about what differentiates him. It's his message. Yes we can. Steve Rosenfeld of Alternet wrote about this powerful message on the day of the primary.

Basically, the other candidates are all saying, "I will do this," "I will do that," "I will be there in this way for you," as they recite the fine print of issues to show what they would do as president. Indeed, most of the horserace coverage from this and other debates is on the points scored by the candidates as they joust on this wavelength.

Obama, on the other hand, is not emphasizing the "I" pronoun. He is all about we and you. "We can do this." "We can do that." "If we come together, we can achieve ..." The former grass-roots organizer is making his candidacy inclusive. Obama is asking people to join him, implying that he will listen, hear them and include them in solutions that rely on the best in them and in society, not the worst.

Progressive messaging wizard George Lakoff also offered his take.

"In the brain, there are two pathways for emotions," Lakoff said, offering an explanation for Obama's charisma. "There is a negative one for fear and anger. And there is a positive one. What Obama does and Reagan did was activate the positive pathways. George Bush activates the negative ones. Obama is activating the positive ones. He makes people feel physically good just by looking at him. The guy looks upbeat. He looks relaxed. You look at him and you feel upbeat, you feel relaxed. He feels empowered. You feel empowered. That's charisma."

That's a mighty strong message and I think it's a big reason people are drawn to him. He closed the speech with that powerful message.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been
anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible
odds; when we've been told that 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.

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
toward 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. Yes we can to opportunity and
prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this
world. Yes we can.

And so tomorrow, as we take this campaign South and West; as we learn
that the struggles of the textile worker in Spartanburg are not so
different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the
hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are
the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we
will remember that there is something happening in America; that we
are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people;
we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter
in America's story with three words that will ring from coast to
coast; from sea to shining sea - Yes. We. Can.

That's a message of empowerment, a message of change. That's what we need now. Not more fear. I've had enough of the politics of fear. It's time for a politics of empowerment. Those three words are so powerful. As I watched him deliver that speech I started to get hope again. That night a lot of us supporting Obama were pretty down. But that speech got that sense of hope back in me. And New Hampshire was a wake up call for me and us. We have to keep on fighting. Those words lifted me up but now we need to fight. It's not going to be easy to win this thing.

That's why I'm starting the Yes We Can Challenge.

If you were as inspired as me. If you still believe we can beat the politics of fear then join me in keeping up the fight. From now until Feburary 5th I'm going to focus all my political activism on elected Barack Obama president. I like all the other candidates but to me Obama is the one who represents the politics of empowerment. He gets it.

I am pledging here and now to fight. I am setting some goals for myself. I'm going to try to raise or donate $1000 dollars. I'm going to try to make at least 10 phone calls a day. I'm going to go door to door at every opportunity and knock on at least a 100 doors. What will you pledge?

I'm going to do whatever I can. Before this I had stayed more on the sidelines. I had blogged and gone to a few events and handed out fliers. But I have never knocked on a door for a political canidate, I have never called someone for a political canidate. I'm only 14 years old. This is the first time I've been involved in a political campaign and it's not going to be the last. And if we're going to go down we should go down fighting. But I don't think we will. Because millions of us are dedicated. We are committed to changing America. And damnit, we're going to.

Yes. We. Can.

EDIT: A few people have said they want to donate. If you would I'd love it if you'd drop that change in my jar. It would help me get to my goal :)

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