‘Barack will require you to work…’

2 November 2010

“…Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed…”

That’s what the candidate’s wife, Michelle Obama, told students at a campaign rally at UCLA on 18 February 2008. Back then we were outraged at the tone and content of this speech for a lot of reasons, but particularly hearing the woman who would be the First Lady of all Americans say things like:

“I want my girls to travel this world with pride.”

Michelle never says why they can’t do that now. She never articulates “My girls would be ashamed to be Americans abroad because what THEY have done to our county”. Her audience applauds and cheers her line because they get it. They’ve heard it before and Michelle doesn’t have repeat it. She then moves on from her daughters to universalize her wants for all children — at 2:20 (H/T Protein Wisdom)

But two and a half years later we realize that Mrs. Obama actually warned us of what was coming; she told us the truth. Since his election in November 2008 her husband’s presidency has galvanized a nation to learn its history and its Constitution, to engage in political discourse and process in a way not seen, perhaps, since our nation’s birth over two hundred years ago.

It’s unlikely the Obamas ever intended to awaken this “sleeping giant” of ordinary Americans, but life–and politics–is often full of unintended consequences.

H/T to Darlene Click at Protein Wisdom for the links to the following videos. Please watch them. They are compelling. And enlightening.

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