America, the world’s “last best hope,” in Lincoln’s words, emerged from the Bush-Cheney “dark side” as the Democtatic Convention got underway in Denver this week.
In the course of the triumphant four-day celebration of the nation’s restoration. history was made and the American promise was renewed.
The journey from Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776 to the Mile-High Stadium in Denver in 2008 took 232 years. Barack Obama’s profoundly moving promise to America was delivered 45 years to the day after the march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.
232 yeas, 45 years — far too long in the view of those of us who believe fervently in the founding fathers’ promises of liberty, justice and equality for all.
But late is far, far better than never in this case, and so people of good will wept and cheered when Obama, with roots in Kansas and Kenya. became the first African American in history to be nominated for President of the United States by a major political party.
Down through the years, the promises our founding fathers made were broken by their successors more often than they were kept.
The grand imperatives of the American Revolution were overwhelmed by the crass imperatives of the Industrial Revolution early in the 19th century.
The Civil War ended slavery, but triggered a long, brutish, uncivil war.
In 1904, after touring America, the English writer and seer H.G. Wells said that all America had done was make feudalism more efficient.
Since then, America has gone forward and backward, risen and fallen, evolved and devolved, slowly, fitfully fulfilling some of the founders’ promises. — in spirit, if not fully in fact.
Some people died and many were beaten, hosed and jailed as the civil rights movement picked up speed in the 1960s. Non-violent civil rights workers were assaulted in the streets by ultra-violent cops. PresidentJohn Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, a Presidential candidate. and Civil rights leaders Martin Lither King, Jr. and Edgar Evers were assassinated. Still, desegregation and the voters’ eights bill became law.
But as the Bush-Cheney “dark side” descended on us, the American promise that the founding fathers made and legions of Americans down through the ages struggled to keep seemed to disappear. Bush and Cheney and their henchmen assumed imperial powers, Everyone’s civil rights were abridged. High crimes and misdemeanors proliferated, Congress waffled, and the rich got much, much richer, the middle class got poorer, and the working class got laid off.
It is entirely fitting, then, that a brilliant, dedicated, eloquent young black man should lead us out of the Bush-Cheney swamp and on to the high ground.
It was equally fitting that Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president, and her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, endorsed Obama early, campaigned for him and appeared at the convention Monday night.
Teddy Kennedy is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, but he ignored the advice of his doctors, and traveled to Denver to get the convention off to a rousing start. And that is what he and Caroline did.
Kennedy has been called “thee lion of the Senate.” He has not only been there for 50 years and in that time has played a shaping role in more significant legislation than any other Senator in history. And he’s not finished. Defiantly, joyfully, he vowed Monday that, after campaigning this fall for Obama, he would be back in the Senate in January to finally pass for “the cause of (his) life.” universal health care.
Now Obama, his running mate, Joe Biden, the Kennedys, the Clintons,
Senator John Kerry and Al Gore (both of whom spoke more passionately on behalf of Obama than they had on behalf of themselves during their runs for the White House) will spend the next two months campaigning for Obama and Biden, for change, hope, and dreams deferred too long.
Meanwhile, the Republicans will gather Monday in the Twin Cities for the coronation of their ticket. In 2000, they brought us Bush-Cheney, by any measure, the worst President and Vice President in history. Now, in an apparent effort to extend the nightmare, which they have found so profitable, they’re about to inflict John McCain and Sarah Palin, the plastic mavericks, on us.