...at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
Read the whole thing. He wrote it himself. I think that this is the kind of oratory that, given a sustained, impassioned chance in the marketplace of ideas, really could begin to effect some real change in the way we talk about, and think about, race.
I have been trying not to get to excited about Obama's candidacy, given the serial disappointments of the past eight years. But reading that speech, it's hard not to give in to hope. There is no bullshit in it (well--the Israel pandering is perhaps a tad extreme, but he's got to combat that madrassa nonsense somehow), and the reason, I think, is because Obama is an actual writer. A writer of books that are not total crap, and now a writer of a great speech. You get the sense, with this speech, that you have just heard a politician say exactly what he means, without compromise, for the first time in forty years.
So. Not to get all political, but...vote for a freaking writer this fall. And if you live in Pennsylvania, next month.