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Thursday, August 28, 2008

A New Day?

August 28, 2008. Remember where you were. Today is an historic day. I watched the speech. I am inspired. I grew up on those segregated streets of Chicago. I was raised on the vitriol of racial hate. I saw Chicago burn as the whole world watched in 1968. And now, 40 years later - on the 45th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech, Barack Obama is nominated as our Democratic candidate for President. I wept. I cheered. I listened with rapt attention. What a day.

I watched the speech in a local bar/restaurant in Camden, NJ at a party hosted by one of my students. The politics watchers were mostly African-American, but it was a healthy mixed crowd. But the other half of the bar was filled with mostly white college aged young people who had no interest other than getting the next round. They were completely oblivious to what was going on. It made absolutely no difference to them. They are not likely to vote. But their abstention speaks volumes about the critical state of politics in our country. What does it say about us that a significant segment of the population opts out of the polity. And you know they have counterparts in the Latino and African-American communities as well. People who just don't think it matters if they vote or not. People who don't care who wins because their cynicism about politics is like granite. People who don't think that anyone cares about them, listens to them, or could do anything for them if they were heard or cared about.

Change in this election means reaching those citizens too. They need to be brought back into the fold. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Greenie, Socialist, Natural Rights, Constitutional, or whatever - it is important for them to be a part of the process. Without them, we are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

But I will revel in the memory of tonight's history. It was awesome. I was moved. I feel connected to my country in a way that I haven't in a long time. I am too much of a realist to be Pollyanna for too long. But let me have tonight to savor. What a time it is.

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