McCain calls it socialism; I call it opportunity, and there's nothing more American than that.--Senator Barack Obama, Raleigh, NC, October 29, 2008
Today I feel as if I've been to the promised land. I was one of 25,000 people who stood on Halifax Mall, the roof of a parking deck in the downtown Raleigh, North Carolina legislative complex, and listened to Senator Barack Obama talk about hope, change, and what we can do as a nation.
There were a lot of parents with children in the crowd. I asked a ten-year-old girl standing next to me why she was there. As her mother proudly beamed, she replied, "Because I want to see history being made and I like Mr. Obama."
Yesterday, the local news stations reported that the Obama campaign had indicated it was expecting a crowd of around 25,000. The State Highway Patrol stated that a more realistic expectation was 10,000. It is the State Highway Patrol that reported today's final number as 25,000.
I'm still on a high. There was electricity in the air. At one point the crowd broke into a chant of Obama's name. I found myself chanting and swaying with the group. But the people in this crowd are not mindless followers, not members of the cult of Obama as McCain and Palin have tried to portray us. We believe, but not in Obama; we believe in ourselves.
Senator Obama has been very clear since the beginning; he is not a solo act. His message is straightforward--We can, not I can or you can, but We Can. He reiterated that message today stating, "Government can't solve all of our problems, but it can ensure that each of us has a shot at success." According to Obama, the American way means that you "...should be able to make it if you try." No handouts; no taking money from one person to hand over to another, but a government that ensures that every person has an opportunity to access those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Much ado has been made by the McCain/Palin camp about Obama's economic policies and he addressed their criticism directly, speaking of his plans for creating jobs, decreasing taxes on the middle class, and returning the wealthiest 5% to the tax brackets that they were in before the George W. Bush tax cuts, back to a time when there was a federal budget surplus instead of an ever growing federal budget deficit. (If you are interested in the difference between the national debt and the federal budget, please check out an old post on that topic by clicking here.) His plans include tax credits for American businesses that actually do business in the U.S. and create jobs in the U.S., reinstating many of the regulations tossed out during the Reagan years to forestall any more missteps by Wall Street necessitating taxpayer bailouts, and eliminating capital gains taxes for small businesses.
Among my favorite moments was Sen. Obama's addressing of the McCain/Palin's scare tactics regarding his plans for the wealthiest 5% to pay their fair share of taxes. The McCain/Plain folks run around like Chicken Little shouting about the unfairness of not rewarding the wealthy for their hard work. The logic appears to be that if you work hard then you're entitled to your money. I don't have a problem with that and neither does Sen. Obama. However, he does question whether it's in our best interests to have a system that only rewards the holders of the wealth or to have one that also "...rewards workers who contribute to creating that wealth."
Think about it. Suppose that tomorrow the CEO of every car manufacturing company disappeared. There certainly would be some confusion and discussion of what needs to be done, but the assembly lines would still be able to run because the rank and file who actually do the day to day work would still be in place. No doubt, someone from lower management would step into the CEO positions and production would continue. Now, let's imagine that all of the workers disappeared and all that was left were the CEOs. Can we say, work stoppage, boys and girls? Don't get me wrong, leadership is important but so are workers, the people who actually get their hands dirty, who have the skills to create the product. Those workers deserve a living wage and Sen. Obama wants to ensure that they receive it.
Today was an extraordinary day for me. I am high on hope. My only regret is that I couldn't call my mother and share my day with her, but I think that she knows all about it.
I do have a confession to make. I am not in the 5%; are you? If you are, I understand why McCain's plans may be more attractive to you. If not, well mama never liked it when I was rude, so I'll hold my tongue, but you know what I'm thinking.
The rally ended with the song, Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) by Stevie Wonder. What would I do without YouTube? Turn it up and dance around the room.