One of the highlights of Thursday at Invesco Field for me was the "Voices of America" segment during which every day people spoke in support of Barack Obama. On Friday, I flew from Denver to Detroit for a wedding and I was fortunate enough to sit next to the first of the voices of America speakers, Roy Gross, Teamster from Detroit. Watch him address the convention below:
Roy had introduced Barack at his first appearance in Michigan after he secured the nomination and Roy got the call last week that they wanted him to take part in the convention. He told me he's been working on pure adrenaline for days and hasn't really eaten much as he was so nervous about the speech.
I was terrified until about 1pm that afternoon but then I thought about it and realized, they've been marching people out on that stage for days, I should be able to do that.
He did acknowledge that the Invesco Field was particularly intimidating and that he and the others were encouraged to poke their head out first so they wouldn't be startled by the masses of people.
Roy said all of the voices of America folks were kept under the stage in a sort of green room with the Bidens and the Obamas but what was so funny was how normal it was; kids were running around, people were chatting. It was a normal every day oasis in what was an otherwise extraordinary, history-making day.
A highlight for Roy was meeting General Clark. Roy said he doesn't normally approach famous people but he felt compelled to introduce himself to Clark, to shake his hand.
I went up to General Clark and just told him 'I'm honored to be in your presence.' He said to me 'I'm honored to be in the presence of real Americans because that's what it takes to make America work.'
A couple of the voices of America speakers made a point of announcing that they had been life-long Republicans. I wondered what Roy's party affiliation was.
I'm a working guy. I'm not a party hardliner. I'm for working families and getting people back to work. Democrats are our friends traditionally, especially in 2006 and this year. For me, Barack Obama is the best partner we could have to help people get back to work and if I didn't truly believe that, I wouldn't have been able to step out on that stage.
He went on:
The reality is, we're not going to bring all those jobs back to Michigan. Inside the city of Detroit, there's more vacant boarded up houses than new construction. The best thing for Detroit and working people is for Barack Obama to be elected president and my job between now and November 4th is to work my ass off to make sure that happens.
The Obama/Biden "rust belt tour" hits Detroit on Monday. Roy told me he hasn't been tapped to be involved but if he is he'll let me know. I know there's a "rally for America's workers" here at 11am on Monday. I may have to push my flight in order to make it...
by Josh Orton, Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:38:57 PM EDT
It's almost been too easy for Democrats to take rhetorical shortcuts this cycle: just ride out the recent anti-Republican momentum without doing the work to explain how the culpability for the governing failure of the last eight years lies with long-standing Republican philosophy.
Bill Clinton picked up the charge yesterday. And today, so did Obama:
For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.
Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.
You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.
We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.
The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
This is a crucial turn for Obama - specifically assigning partisan blame for the economic and foreign policy disasters of the last eight years. With millions of new voters coming into our political process for the first time, it's crucial our leaders make the broader, more durable argument about who should and should not be governing our country.
Update [2008-8-29 4:31:8 by Josh Orton]: Commenter "itsthemedia" pulls the relevant section from Bill Clinton's Wednesday speech, which addresses the point even more specifically:
...[McCain] still embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years, a philosophy we never had a real chance to see in action until 2001, when the Republicans finally gained control of both the White House and Congress. Then we saw what would happen to America if the policies they had talked about for decades were implemented.
They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty - and millions more losing their health insurance.
Now, in spite of all the evidence, their candidate is promising more of the same: More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality, and weaken the economy. More band-aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured. More going it alone in the world, instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.
They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more. Let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America: Thanks, but no thanks.
It was an amazing show tonight. But I have to say, as theatrical as it was, it had an undercurrent of genuine emotion, far more than 4 years ago. It was also unabashedly liberal and Barack was tough as hell on McCain.
More later as I process this incredible night. We're heading to the "blogger bash."
I've been complaining for the last few days that the Republicans were succeeding with the "Democrats in Division" story, and specifically using it to divide the Clinton and Obama coalitions, and that the Obama campaign was failing at defense. I was getting angrier as I saw more slights against the Clintons pile up, and I noted some Obama supporters taking offense at various statements by Hillary or Bill Clinton. I was beginning to fear that the divisions in the party might become permanent, dooming Obama's chances, and I didn't understand why the Obama campaign wasn't proactively shutting down the news stories that were popping up.
But after Hillary and Bill Clinton's speeches, and watching the Gallup poll show a dramatic rise for Obama today based on yesterday's post-Hillary results, I've begun to wonder if Hollede was on to something with his The Real Head Fake diary.