Rather than continuing the job hunt, I have spent most of this week reading political articles, digesting endless blog comments and watching many speeches from politicos across the USA. I might as well make good use of the endless free time I’ve got right now, after all.
And the timing has been perfect, because, naturally, this has been the week of the Democratic National Convention. As a political junkie, something like this is unmissable. This time four years ago I spent an equal amount of time watching the speeches from that (courtesy of the awesome C-SPAN) – and one in particular impressed me.
Yeah yeah, we all know about Barack Obama’s stunning oratical masterpiece four years ago. I watched it at the time and thought – and this is the honest truth – that this man ought to be the next Democratic presidential candidate after Kerry. It was moving and powerful. I have never heard anything so good since, and I doubt I ever will. I feel pretty smart that I jumped on the bandwagon four years ago, a long time before others. And certainly a long time before almost everyone in the UK.
But with that speech four years ago in mind, Obama was never likely to reach those heights. And so, wisely, he picked a different tack, to give the speech more content and more red meat. It worked. And the final third delivered the rhetorical soar that all good speeches ought to finish with.
On balance I would give it an 8.5/10 when compared with all his speeches I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot). 10/10 goes to the DNC 2004 speech; and 10/10 to his “A More Perfect Union” intelligent brilliance of a few months back. But in terms of whether it was the right speech, at the right moment, it truly nailed it. In the context of the election, and using an American analogy, he hit the ball right out of the park.
Why do I share all this on a personal blog? Well, largely because an enormous part of me is dictated by the way I feel politically. It would be foolish to deny that my politics has no impact on my outlook of life. In many respects, it is to my shame that it has the impact it does, mainly because British politics has left me so cynical and jaded at the tender age of 23.
But somehow, just this once, I’ve allowed myself to get carried away with the optimism. When American politics is at its finest, optimism and positivity is the thing it does the best in the world. Maybe it will turn out in the future that we’ve all pinned our enormous expectations to Obama, something which he will never be able to live up to. And so we’re all setting ourselves up for a very big fall when reality crashes in.
Just this time, however, I’m willing to believe. But the message of Obama is far more than just what he can achieve. In fact, I would argue that, if Obama is successful, it will not be because he personally made certain actions that delivered certain positive results.
It will be because he convinces people that they must be the agent of their own change, not the government, not politicians or anyone else. That politics is not about top-down. It’s about the community, it’s about high aspiration, it’s about hard work and passion for your cause.
This is why I have a lot of time for the Obama message. It is one of personal empowerment, and that is extremely liberating.
So in many respects it appeals to me personally. It is a message that I could easily apply to myself. That I must stop wallowing in self-pity, wondering where did it all go wrong, but instead to embrace the situation and turn it towards my own hopes and dreams. To put in more effort and to aspire to achieve something bigger than what I was originally aiming for.
While it’s been a fun week politically, it’s been a challenging one personally. What should my next step be? I can but dream…