My friend Joan Rutkowski and I have been writing back and forth about Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech. In the course of our correspondence, she shared with me an as-yet-unsent letter-to-the-editor.
I thought I would share it with you, with her permission. Here it is in slightly shortened form.
Never in my life have I looked forward to hearing a politician deliver a speech.
As a 33-year-old, I have observed just enough of the political process to distrust politicians.
But on Monday night, after hearing that Barack Obama was going to give a speech about racism in America and about his pastor’s comments, I wrote myself a reminder to watch it the next day.
I had viewed a few of his campaign speeches online before this and had already been moved by his inspirational and eloquent message. So, I was quite interested to see how he would handle an immediate, controversial issue.
As expected, he offered a nuanced and deeply thoughtful perspective on this country’s history of racial issues. But what most interested me, in the end, was how much I was drawn to listening to and thinking about his words. This was a full 37 minutes of watching someone stand at a podium, and yes, my attention span sometimes falters when it comes to television. But I was listening to every word. Closely.
This is the kind of communication that I think most of us long for from our political leaders — and almost never hear. What is most compelling to me, and many others, is what this speech exemplifies about his entire campaign and his character in general. Obama continually demonstrates a unique ability to communicate with both eloquence and insight about the issues that confront us. He can be pragmatic, as when he talks about his health care ideas, yet inspirational at the same time.
Hillary and others desperately try to write off his campaign as style over substance. But what cynics do not understand is that the inspiration he conjures comes not just from his eloquence, but from our gut feeling that this guy is telling us the truth . . .
Because we have many difficult issues to confront and solutions that are unlikely to make everyone happy, we need a leader whose words not only inspire, but educate and engage citizens.
This may explain why, in another first, my Republican-leaning father, mother, and brother, and myself, are all supporting the same candidate. It seems that hope, change, and unity are possible when expressed by the right person at the right time.