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Obama, Spidey, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Democrats Abroad are in Berlin this weekend for our Europe, Middle East, and Africa regional meeting. We are brainstorming Get Out The Vote plans for 2010. While we're here we're honored to make up a small part of the vibrant Berlin street. Germans, Europeans, and the world are gathering this weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

On Friday night we had a welcome reception at the Museum of the Kennedys located on Pariserplatz in front of the Brandenburg Gate. This is the site of John F. Kennedy's mythic "Ich bich ein Berliner" speech. (Kids, it was also the site of U2's free concert Thursday night.) Kennedy's "Ich bich ein Berliner" speech is the speech whose four words still signal empathy, connection and strength forty-eight years after its iconic words are spoken.

The Museum Director welcomes our band of Democrats Abroad and tells us about the history of the Museum -- particularly the Superman/Kennedy comic on display. A comic? It is something that all the German school groups gravitate towards in the Museum. Superman in a European history museum! The kids regularly discuss the comic with their tour guide and teachers.

In the comic Superman is going to receive the Medal of Honor. But the people giving Superman the Medal of Honor want him to be accompanied by his good friend and sidekick Clark Kent. This poses a problem. So Superman goes to President Kennedy, who knows Superman's dual identity. Natch. And Superman asks that President Kennedy help him out.

Superman asks that President Kennedy pose as Clark Kent during the Medal of Honor event so that Superman can accept his award. And President Kennedy, being the extremely good guy that he is, says,"Yes". Don't worry, it all works out in the end. Superman gets his award.

Then Superman says to President Kennedy, "Thanks, Mr. President. If you can't trust the President of the United States, who can you trust?"

My, the world has changed, was my first thought.

But the school kids love the comic. Or they did love it a lot -- for a long time. Evidently they loved it until George W. Bush was President and invaded Iraq. Then the comic became an object of total confusion. "Why? The German kids asked. "Why would Superman want to be friends with someone as uncool as the President of the United States?"

Wow, the world has really changed, was my second thought. Then the Museum Director tells us, "But everything is back to normal. Ever since the election of President Obama. And now we have a comic with Spiderman and President Obama on the stairs for juxtaposition. The kids love it. They see exactly why Spiderman would want to have a friend in the President of the United States."

Well. Talk about winning hearts and minds. The world has changed. Although I have changed too, and I wish that I could believe one cool guy and his superhero friend could save the world alone.

However, if there is one take home from this time in Berlin, it is that ordinary people who maintain HOPE, combined with ordinary people with a great will to have CHANGE, can bring down vast, seemingly impenetrable, unjust, unresponsive systems, and WALLS, with the sheer power of their numbers, the sheer force of the belief of HOPE and the will to CHANGE. There are still many walls to fall from Burma to North Korea, Guinea, Darfur, Iran, and the Congo. There are still Real walls, and walls that are conjured from Imagination that must fall.

As we sit in our strategy sessions this weekend surrounded by history in Berlin's Rathaus, the people of Berlin will celebrate their passionate victory bringing down a monolithic wall that no one ever imagined would fall.

There is a discussion be to had as to whether naïve beliefs have any value, like ' one man alone (with his superhero sidekick) can really change with world without the people by his side'. Although as a mother I believe it is critical for children to have belief systems that say there is great good in the world, and good will triumph with enough hard work and faith.
That is the key, the hard work and the faith. I certainly wish less people thought that now that the voting is over one guy and his gang of friends could fix the world without difficult, combined work from all of us together.

I do know that the people have a force greater than systems however unjust, however powerful, systems that seem fixed in eternity, systems that try to control the people, systems that wrest choice and freedom and prosperity from their people. I do know that. But I know that that only happens with hard work and faith.

So, I am ecstatic to be here in Berlin surrounded in every moment by reminders of the great forces of HOPE and CHANGE that animated the great pulling down of the wall, I am trying to send some of that energy to the Congress as they vote for giving the American people one of the critical tools in the freedom arsenal: good health and good healthcare. And later as they vote to stem the flood of climate change, and in favor of truly superior education from kindergarten to post grad. I hope we can channel the Superman and the Spidey in all of us in the days ahead, cool citizen superheroes working for change, working for democracy, working for justice. So I am proud to be in the party with a small and a capital D: me, Democrats Abroad, Obama, Spidey, and millions of citizen heroes fighting for truth justice and the American way.