Christopher Kuttruff: A Party and Country United
A Party and Country United
By Christopher Kuttruff
t r u t h o u t | Report
After winning a sizable victory Tuesday night in the crucial state of North Carolina and losing by a small margin in Indiana, Senator Barack Obama addressed an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, laying out his vision for the party, and for the country.
Senator Obama won by 56 percent to 42 percent in North Carolina, while Senator Clinton prevailed by 51 percent to 49 percent in Indiana.
While CNN and other news networks focused heavily last night on exit polls showing demographic divides and a statistic in North Carolina that only 45 percent of Clinton supporters would back Obama if he is nominated, the senator from Illinois sought to allay concerns about the state of the party with a more conciliatory tone.
"I want to start by congratulating Senator Clinton on what appears to be her victory in the great state of Indiana. I want to thank all the wonderful people of Indiana who worked so hard on our behalf," Obama stated in the early portions of his speech.
Despite a growing consensus that Hillary Clinton faces an uphill mathematical battle for the nomination, Obama has stated on several occasions that Clinton is a formidable candidate and should continue to compete as long as she feels is appropriate.
He criticized what he views as the shallow and divisive media coverage of the election: "Tonight, many of the pundits have suggested that this party is inalterably divided, that Senator Clinton's supporters will not support me and that my supporters would not support her. Well, I am here tonight to tell you that I don't believe it. Yes, yes, there have been bruised feelings on both sides. Yes, each side desperately wants their candidate to win. But ultimately this race is not about Hillary Clinton; it's not about Barack Obama; it's not about John McCain. This election is about you, the American people."
Obama highlighted this belief later in his speech by voicing the frustrations of many people he encountered across the campaign trail. He reflectively spoke of a mother in Wisconsin who had lost her son in Iraq and gave Obama a bracelet inscribed with her son's name as a reminder of his sacrifice. He recalled meeting a man in Pennsylvania who had lost his job and couldn't afford the gas to go look for another.
Throughout these examples, Senator Obama asserted that the continuation of the government's current domestic and international policies is not going to solve the problems of our nation, and of our globe.
He explained that when the election is over, "we will have to remember who we are as Democrats, that we are the party of Jefferson and Jackson, of Roosevelt and Kennedy, and that we are at our best when we lead with principle, when we lead with conviction, when we summon an entire nation to a common purpose and a higher purpose."
Obama passionately emphasized the need for Democrats, and more generally Americans, to emerge from this election unified - prepared to coalesce around a common national vision.
Many critics have argued that Obama's hope and optimism stem from a lack of experience, but the senator attempted to recognize the political challenges ahead, stating, "You see, I didn't get into this race thinking that I could avoid this kind of politics, but I am running for president because this is the time to end it. We will end it this time not because I'm perfect. I think we know at this phase of the campaign that I am not. We will end it not by duplicating the same tactics and the same strategies as the other side, because that will lead us down the same path of polarization and of gridlock. We will end it by telling the truth."
Regarding foreign policy, the senator exclaimed: "I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom, to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.
"Security and opportunity, compassion and prosperity aren't liberal values. They are not conservative values. They are American values, and that is what we are fighting for in this election."
He concluded his speech by declaring: "I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this critical moment in history."
Christopher Kuttruff is an assistant editor and reporter for Truthout.