The role of citizens in our Democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.
And the part of Obama's speech that I have been yearning to hear, a part that you must listen to or read as being shouted out over the roar of the crowd with all the oratory power a man can muster:
I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
I didn't truly think we would have a black man as president during my lifetime, nor acceptance of being gay said so casually. Casually in a good way. I have gotten used to hearing from politicians that your race does not or should not affect your chances in life, but never before that your sexual preference is just as normal and rights-filled as the color of your skin. (Though I wonder if he meant "who you love" rather than "where you love", which made me think of people kissing in church)
It's a little complicated to end it with "you can make it here", which is of course a primary tenet of this country's self-identity, on both sides of the partisan fence, but one that is often misinterpreted. It is not "You will make it here", it is that you can, which means you might, and that you might not. We do not have the intrinsic right to a booming economy, or a million dollars, or anything other than the freedom to work hard to achieve our passions. We have the right to be protected in our pursuit and given the latitude to work hard, and that is a wonderful thing.
It is uplifting when someone rockets to fame and wealth from poverty, like a singer or basketball player or entrepreneur, but most of us will not achieve that—most of us do not have those vocal chords or lay-up talent or necessary type-A personality! I myself require too much sleep. But even those with such wonderful unique talents must work hard.
I hope our newly re-elected president will be given the chance to work hard and not get mired in gridlock. Let him, and all of us, work hard.
Oh boy. Tearing up again. Thank you everyone for caring so much that the lines to vote were hours long. Though yes, that waiting shit needs to be fixed.
For Obama's full speech in video or transcript you can go here.