When Obama finished visiting his gravely ill grandmother in Hawaii on Friday, he swiftly returned to the trail. First up, there were stops in Nevada and then New Mexico. Then his final campaign stop was in Colorado.
Most Americans, actually most people across the world, have seen Obama speak, and millions at this point have been to his events (remember Berlin), so I won’t bore you with my opinion on the details of his promises (very progressive) or of the energy at the event (high).
But what really seemed new and “transformative” and what really seemed to capture the 100,000 Coloradoans at the weekend’s rally, people across the US and me – was his discussion about struggle. Having worked in British politics, I have learned not to be easily mesmerised by politicians, but I will admit right here: the flash I saw from Obama at the end of his speech really blew me away.
Indeed, as he was closing his remarks, he touched on how making change is incredibly painful and incredibly gruelling – and how it always has been throughout our history. And the best part – the part where the audience was most rapt – was when Obama veered off his prepared remarks and made it personal.
He made references to the courage of immigrants and the civil rights movement, which are clearly personal to Obama, but are rarely voiced in politics – an arena that has often been about bashing immigrants. That he departed from his prepared text to talk about those issues, and tied them to a discussion about how difficult change is – well, it suggests that very “transformative” possibility of an Obama presidency.
Whether you believe Obama represents real change or not, I came away believing that he understands the challenge of actually making change, should he win. That is, he understands that if he really attempts to fundamentally alter the status quo on major issues, it is going to be a very tumultuous and difficult process – one that only begins in the wake of election day. After all an Obama win will mark the beginning, not the end, of the work that needs to be done. Undoing the damage of the Bush administration will not only take time, but resolve.
I’m not 100 per cent sure, knowing how hard this will be, that Obama will move into the breach. My heart hopes he will, and my gut tells me its more than likely he will, but we will never know unless he gets a chance – a chance that I believe he deserves. If he wins, I am sure America will have a president who grasps how tough it will be to make progress – and I am becoming more confident that America will have a president who will try to make that progress a reality.