President Obama just delivered his valedictory campaign speech in Philadelphia, asking the massive assembled crowd to listen one last time to the stirring oratory which catapulted the junior Senator from Illinois into the national spotlight 12 years ago, and to elect Hillary Clinton as America’s first female President tomorrow.
His valedictory speech was a actually bookend to very first, uplifting speech that Barack Obama delivered to the Democratic National Convention, a dozen years ago in Boston; a speech which ultimately propelled him into the White House four years later.
Back then, he was a Democratic Senate candidate from Illinois, and Obama spoke about “a skinny kid, with a funny name, who hopes America has a place for him too.”
That was when also he first asked Democrats, “if we participate in a politics of cynicism, or a politics of hope.”
The ‘skinny kid’ won his Senate race by a landslide then, and now he had quite a few more gray hairs while delivering his final major campaign address for Hillary Clinton to succeed him tomorrow, in this, his final political campaign as the President of the United States of America.
After nearly eight years of service as our President in the most perilous of times, the old bombast of that ‘skinny kid’ was tempered, but the message was still intense, driven and uplifting; a message about unity, about American values, about betting on the many people of this country who are united as one, to overcome the politics of division and fear.
In a brutal campaign season filled with point and counter-point, rhetoric and reprisal, more than policy or politics, President Obama reminded the assembled multitudes in Philadelphia, and the millions watching or listening, exactly why we gave that ‘skinny kid’ a chance to guide our country through the very worst of crisis moments now passed; why America added 15 million jobs and 20 million people to health insurance rolls in just eight years; and why we should trust President Obama’s endorsement of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as his successor, and reward it with our vote tomorrow.
Because he’s betting on America to do the right thing.
And we’ve never let him down.
President Obama said:
“I still believe in hope.”
“I’m still optimistic as ever about our future, and that’s because of you, the American people. In my visits to schools and factories, war theaters, national parks; in the letters you’ve written me, in the tears you’ve shed over the loss of a loved one, I have seen the goodness and your strength and your heart.
In 2008, you gave me a chance.
A skinny guy with a funny name.
And for these past eight years, I saw how hard you worked in the face of impossible odds. I saw the values you teach your children.
I saw the way you treat strangers in need. I’ve seen the young men and women in uniform who meet every mission, and the military families who serve and sacrifice just as well, and the wounded warriors who never quit.
You bet on me all those years ago, and I will always be grateful for the privilege you gave me to serve, but I’ll be honest with you.
I’ve always had the better odds, because I’ve always bet on you.
And America, I’m betting on you one more time.
I’m betting that tomorrow, most moms and dads across America won’t cast their vote for someone who denigrates their daughters, from the highest office in the land.
I’m betting that most Americans won’t vote for someone who considers minorities and immigrants, and people with disabilities as inferior.
Who considers people who practice different faiths as objects of suspicion.
I’m betting tomorrow, that true conservatives won’t cast their vote for someone with no regard for the Constitution.
I’m betting that young people will turn out to vote, because your future is at stake.
I’m betting that men across this country will have no problem voting for the more qualified candidate.
Who happens to be a woman.
I’m betting that African Americans will vote in big numbers.
Because this journey we’ve been on is not about the color of of a President, but the content of his or her character.
I’m betting that America will reject the politics of resentment, and the politics of blame, and choose a politics that says we are stronger together.
I am betting that tomorrow, you will reject fear.
And choose hope.
I’m betting that the decency and generosity of the American people will once again win the day.
And that is a bet I have never, ever lost.
Philadelphia, in this place where our founders forged the documents of freedom. In this place where they gave us the tools to perfect our union; if you share my faith, then I ask you to vote.”
If you want a President who shares our faith in America, who’s lived that faith in America, who will finally shatter a glass ceiling, and be a President for each and every one of us, then I am asking you to work as hard as you can, this one last day.”
To elect, my fellow Americans this fighter, this stateswoman, this mother, this grandmother, this patriot;
Our next president of the United States of America.
President Obama tapped the podium, and walked off.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition