November 5, 2008

Great Moments in Presidential History

DH and I used to like watching this segment of David Letterman’s Friday night Late Show. He would show a few clips of important presidential speeches, and then he would show a short clip of President Bush, stumbling over himself or saying something stupid. It was funny; it was harmless.

Last night, we saw another great moment in presidential history. One thing I appreciated was both leaders' graciousness towards each other and the emphasis that parties need to work together to find solutions to the problems we are facing:

Sen. Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. . . .

I would not be an American worthy of the name, should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone and I thank the people of Arizona for it.

Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Sen. Obama, I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.

And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.~ Sen. McCain

He [McCain] fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Gov. Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead. . . .

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation — as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, ‘We are not enemies, but friends... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.’ And, to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too
.~ Pres. Elect Obama

As I listened to these speeches from two leaders: one winner, one loser, I felt like our country can head in a direction that holds hope for the future in a time when the future seems bleak. Honestly, I felt proud, and I appreciated both of their words.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his [Obama's] success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who had once srongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Sen. Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound
. ~ Sen. McCain
For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. . . . There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, callused hand by callused hand. . . .

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world — our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight, we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America — that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow
. ~ Pres. Elect Obama
I’m not interested in politics. To try to look beyond the façade and decipher the true agenda has never inspired me with anything much but frustration. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected from this election or if I expected anything at all—maybe I am the embodiment of apathy, I don’t know. It’s not something I’m happy about. But, I have to take our leaders’ words for what they are. I have to hope that our country is moving toward a new beginning, that we will find prosperity and implement solutions to tough problems, that I will have peace of mind in my own family’s future. I have to believe that is possible, no matter who sits in the captain’s chair. Perhaps that is naïve; perhaps it is foolish. But, I have to believe that, because I believe in America.

Senator John McCain – Concession Speech (full transcript here)
President Elect Barack Obama – Victory Speech (full transcript here)


Karen Thomas said...

amen, sister!

laurylaro said...

Late on Election night I was thinking about moving to Mexico:-)But I suppose the Democrats will have their turn now, just as the Republicans have had theirs for the last 8 years. I'm just not excited at all about government running healthcare. I mean really, does the DMV and Post Office provide more superior service than UPS or Fed Ex? hmmm.. sounds like my comment turned into a new blog topic for me:-)