When I was a kid, there was a family drama on TV called “The Waltons”. It was about a rural family struggling during the Depression. What I recall was that while I found the show a bit corny and didn’t watch it religiously, every time I did watch it, I came away feeling better than before I turned on the television.
Two moments during this, the first night of the Democratic convention, left me feeling so much better than I did beforehand. The first moment was the appearance of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who against great odds appeared before the adoring crowd to reiterate his support of Barack Obama’s candidacy. I have a loved one who is a cancer survivor and I know through her the terrible physical burden placed on the body by chemotherapy and radiation. In keeping with his passion for service to this country, Teddy made the trip to Denver and delivered a rousing speech. Using a variation on his 1980 convention speech closer, he said “the work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on.” For a man battling brain cancer, it was a stirring courageous moment.
As if the emotional impact of the night could not get any more profound, Michelle Obama then appeared and delivered a speech that crystallized her and Barack’s embodiment of the American Dream. Born on the south side of Chicago, raised by hard working parents, one of whom rose above a debilitating disability, Michelle Obama excelled far beyond expectation. In perhaps the most masterful part of her speech, within one sentence she honored the historic campaign of Hillary Clinton and the life’s work of Joe Biden. It was as if to say, Hillary did a great historic thing, and now we have to move on and accept the candidacy of a life-long public servant, Joe Biden. She managed to say, implicitly, that Biden’s selection does not diminish Clinton’s accomplishment.
Tonight was a night of themes that could not help but lift the spirit. Courage, hard work, hope, achieving the American Dream and loving our country for providing the potential to achieve that dream.
Next week, when I watch the Republican convention, I will stay as open minded as possible and see if I come away with such a feeling of hope. All I can say is tonight, I feel inspired. I feel that if the Democrats emerge victorious in November, our country will have a chance to set aside fear, cynicism and hopelessness and once again make people believe they can achieve their dreams.