Barack Obama is an incredibly impressive orator. He speaks with grace and power, his words suffused with purpose. He has mastered a voice that exerts both authority and emotion without pontificating. There is an honesty in his cadence that slightly resembles that of Bill Clinton, a speech delivered in a style that isn’t really a speech, but more of a conversation. That night, President Obama and the American people had a conversation about something our President knows quite a bit about, the audacity of hope. And trust me, there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire arena.
I was enamored by his remarks, but it wasn’t until the crowd resurrected the famous slogan “YES WE CAN” that I was deeply affected. It was within those seconds I was, as Fitzgerald writes, “…within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
I was transported eight years back, to television clips of people shouting “YES WE CAN” in massive crowds. Struck with the absoluteness of the change he has brought about and the love the American people share with him because of it.
“Time and again, you’ve picked me up. And I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too. And tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you’re who I was talking about 12 years ago when I talked about hope. It’s been you who fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds were great; even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.”
I knew then why Barack Obama had won back in 2008. Fear is subjective, but hope is indefinite. I looked down towards the stage, at the side of his face and the corner of the podium. Compelled by the sadness in his stance that lifted a little bit in each word he spoke and the arena got smaller and smaller. As if there were not millions of people behind those big black cameras scattered among skyboxes. That speech was a love letter to this country. If Shakespeare wrote speeches for the King of England, it would probably sound something like what we heard that night. 46 stunning minutes when all I could think was: that’s my president.