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President Obama: The Dream Is Real, Speech Example

Pages: 1

Words: 682

Speech

As President Obama fulfills his second term of office, the nation engages in the kinds of fierce debates typical at such times.  On one side, supporters of the President express how his leadership and intelligence are more in evidence than ever before, and that he is moving the country away from years of recession and injustice.  On another, there is an equally loud chorus claiming that Obama’s entire presidency has been a failure.  He has, they say, destroyed the economy and set in motion insane changes to health care.  The different sides come together in only one way; they each point to evidence supporting their feelings, eager to be right and set the President in his proper place in history as his time in office expires.

All of this is very usual.  Americans love to play “Monday morning quarterback” with their leaders, and second terms especially enable this.  For many, the President is already on his way out, so there is the opportunity to think of him in the past tense, and look ahead to the legacies not yet even created.  What makes this particular assessment different, however, is how it is ignoring the essence of what makes Obama unique to begin with, and how his presidency may not in fact be judged as so many others have been.  This is a failure of almost tragic proportions because, no matter the actual successes and disappointments of Obama’s time in office, the greater reality is that this man’s presence in the White House may be one of the most extraordinary events of American history.

It is easy to forget the recent past, and Americans are famous for having short memories as well. Nonetheless, it was only a few decades ago that African Americans, inspired by the courage and leadership of Martin Luther King, took to the streets to demand basic civil rights and justice.  As recently as forty years ago, it was ordinary for blacks to be denied employment openly, and racism was an accepted ideology.  A nation that had fought a civil war to end slavery had a very long way to go in ending racial injustice, because the thinking that fueled slavery was so deeply ingrained in the society as a whole.  Only the bravery of King and others, generating pride and an unwillingness to be second-class citizens, could make the needed impact and create change.  Even so, racism is by no means gone from the society, and racial hatred still erupts throughout American from day to day.

This is why Obama’s election to the presidency is so remarkable.  Dr. King had a dream for peace and equality, but it is unlikely that even this great visionary could have foreseen a black man’s assuming the highest office in the land in so short a span of time.  Advances in equality aside, the United States remains very much a white, mainstream culture, and most definitely in terms of power.  Obama then defied a fundamental element of the nation, and he defied it because enough people in the nation saw the need for change on an immense scale.  Then, that a second term was won reinforces how the nation believed in the directions this leader was taking, and the ongoing need to bring equality to all.

It is easy to point to any president’s failures, simply because the challenges are so immense, failure is likely.  It is also necessary, however, to note real accomplishment, and this exists strongly in Obama’s record. Having inherited a country in the grip of a massive recession, he relentlessly made efforts to bring jobs and relief to the average man and woman. Then, he had the courage to insist on a national health care agenda, and fight against the enormous power of the health care industries. Obama even took it upon himself to declare ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ the unconstitutional policy it always was.  Let the criticism go on, as it certainly will.  It cannot lessen the reality the President Obama, in working for the real people of his country, has brought to life a dream first voiced by Martin Luther King.

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