I had so many thoughts after Obama's speech yesterday, but none of them were organized enough to write. Today maybe a few are.
1. I don't think it's going to change anyone's mind. If you supported Obama before, you probably still do, if you didn't you still don't.
2. It should now be clear to everyone with a reasonably open mind who listened to the speech, what he means by change. There were so many shortcuts he could have taken. If he were Bush or Clinton, he would have taken them. After having presidents who openly lie for so long, the change is this: Obama doesn't. He told the truth, maybe not all of it, but orders of magnitude more than politicians of our age do.
2a. Yes, Virginia, Obama is a politician. And that's not a dirty word. We have politics to make decisions as groups of people, at a local, state, country, even a global level. If we ever elect someone to the presidency who says he or she is not a politician, they are lying, bigtime.
3. Sometimes things get so bad that only the truth will do. We usually like bedtime stories from our politicians, tales that give us a good night's sleep. Obama certainly has a good bedside manner. And while race isn't the top item on our national to-do list, it is on the list and has been there, as he said, since before the founding of the country.
The Wright videos have brought race to the front, have started a discourse here and elsewhere, that has enormous potential for improving communication. And while the problems may be unsolvable (none of us are going to change how we feel or what we believe) we must not let them stand in the way of working together and getting stuff done. You don't have the time to change me, and I don't have the time to change you. Our first order of business is to get Obama elected, and after that, we have a lot more work to do.
I think this is how historic problems are properly dealt with. You side-step the personal issues, and just start assuming the problem has been solved, and then one day you look up and things are a lot better. Not perfect, they never are, but better. (This is why the "fierce urgency of now" is something to seize and embrace, to not pass up. We can use it to get past the attitudes and beliefs that are in our way.)
4. Obama is not Howard Dean, and the Wright videos are not the Dean Scream, because Obama has the delegate and popular vote lead, and we're deep into the primary season. He makes the decision whether his candidacy is viable, not Hardballs, 350, The Suffocation Room, Space The Nation not even Cowntown and certainly not Tim Russert. (Sorry, the first was a typo, then I had fun with the others.)
5. Maybe the delay in choosing a candidate is not such a bad thing for the Democratic Party. Maybe the time can be used to figure out wtf the Democratic Party is in 2008. Maybe we can participate in that decision this time, maybe it isn't just the insiders and fatcats (love that word!) who get to call the shots. Maybe we should organize a BloggerCon for May to discuss the future of the Democratic Party. I bet some interesting ideas would come from such a meetup.