Observations on Obama’s Victory Speech
This is an important day in the history of America, a day that a qualified African-America senator was elected to be the 44th president of the United States of America. And given Obama’s grand economic plans and pro-choice agenda, this is a day of change. Some of that change is charted in Obama’s Victory Speech. In an eloquent address charged with emotion, peppered with realism, and delivered with humility, Barack Obama tells us a little more about himself and his hopes for our country.
A Family Man
Obama put first things first in thanking his family for their many sacrifices, as well as proclaiming his love for his wife and children. A stirring way to start his thank yous. “I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.”
A Public Servant
Obama knows this isn’t a popularity contest. He ran for president to serve the public, to serve a remarkably diverse country with immense challenges. He states: “I know you didn’t do this just to win an election, and I know that you didn’t do it for me.”
He notes that his election was the voice of a diverse people whom he aims to unite: “It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.”
A Bipartisan President
As the last line states–“we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.” He continues: “Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” This is a wonderful American ideal that falls far from reality in recent politics. The last election was a very divided election, and the last presidency a not so bipartisan presidency. Political lines run deep in America, perhaps deeper than religious and racial lines. The hope of united states is an ideal; perhaps there will be some implementation of that ideal in this presidency. Regardless of your political commitments, Obama states his desire to listen and serve all peoples: “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.”
What Was Missing?
Not everything can be covered in a sixteen minute speech. However, the absence of God-talk in Obama’s speech is striking, especially when compared to the 2000 Bush victory speech. Apart from the familiar phrase “God bless you, and God bless America”, Obama makes no references to our need for God or for prayer. Bush, on the other hand, called America to pray, asserted his theism (I have faith that with God’s help we as a nation will move forward), and inserted his beliefs (I believe everything happens for a reason).
Why the absence of God-talk? Is this because Obama doesn’t talk to God? Not necessarily. Obama doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve, yet his response to Rick Warren regarding what it means to be a follower of Christ was more theologically accurate and believable than John McCain’s response. Obama appears to be deliberately distancing himself from the syncretistic statements made by George W. Bush over the past eight years. It remains to be seen how much his beliefs will color his administration. No doubt their presidencies and speeches will be quite different. Change is on the horizon.
The New York Times has a great video and searchable transcript of the victory speech here.