But there has always been another thread running throughout our history -- a belief that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation...
Ask yourselves -- where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges, our dams, our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill. Where would we be if they hadn't had that chance?
No single individual built America on their own. We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another. Members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities...."
In How Obama Got It Right writers George Lakoff and Glenn W. Smith used this quote to demonstrate how President Obama used his speech last night to call the country to action. In his opening paragraph he tells us why progressives always have a hard time winning policy arguments. He notes that they never learned the trick, which is that "morality drives policy". Progressives nowadays have got it backwards and they keep falling short of their goals.
This is so true. How many times have we watched as progressives put forward ideas that are good for the country only to have them wiped out by the conservatives slamming their own view from their twisted 'moral perspective' view and winning the argument? Too many times.
Well, last night President Obama changed that by using their tried and true tactic against them but from a progressive angle. It was music to my ears and it looks like it was music to many other ears too.
When I was a little girl I dreamed of coming to this country because I heard stories of people who came here to achieve their greatest goals and dreams. Whenever there was a problem in the world Americans would lead the way with their purses, with their soldiers, with their citizens helping those who were in need. I longed to be an American and to live in America.
I know that there are things that America could have done better and I know that the idea of America is not perfect just like everything else on this earth is not perfect. However, even in the midst of my most difficult times here, now I am a resident of this country, I have always believed in this country's amazing principles and values.
President Bush did a lot to harm this country but at the end of his term, when it mattered, he stepped up and stopped the country from spiraling out of control when the banks and wall street went haywire. Even in that moment, who helped him most? The Democrats stepped up and did what was morally right for this country. Even though they did not believe in President Bush or his policies they stepped up when it mattered and signed on to TARP even when their Republican colleagues balked and deserted their President.
The Progressive vision is one of collective responsibility. We rise and fall together so we should help each other as best we can. President Obama articulated this well in his speech last night and the message and rallying cry was heard like the tolling of a bell across the country. His language was simple, clear, concise and moving.
We have a moral responsibility to help our brothers and sisters when they are suffering: when they are in trouble. We have a social responsibility to make sure we are being respectful, kind and civil to each other. Our President embodies these beliefs and he drew a line in the sand last night showing where he stands. No one can ever say again that they do not know his values or his beliefs. He made a cogent argument for progressive government that so many have longed to hear even though he showed his belief system in his policies as much as he could. It is time that folk get off the sidelines and stop doubting this amazing man. We are fortunate to have him as a leader in these turbulent times.
RepubTeaPartiers have been turning this belief system, which the President articulated last night, on its head and to their advantage since they took over the House and most Governor Offices in 2010.
Last night President Obama got up off the ropes and punched back. Hard.
All those Progressives who doubted the President should now be proud and go to work to help get this bill passed and stop whining and complaining.
Now it is up to the RepubTeaPartiers to come from a place of 'moral responsibility from a Progressive framework. The argument has been reframed.
I am glad I am not in their shoes.
Let the campaign begin.