Staying the Course for Working Families: Kennedy and Obama (Mchelle this time)

09/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senator Ted Kennedy brought participants at the first night of the Democratic Convention to their feet just by showing up. His courage, valor, and determination to keep up the good fight for America's working families moved and inspired every soul in the hall and I'm sure millions more who watched on television.

But he was not satisfied to bask in the glory of the warm welcome. He demonstrated once again his determination to continue what he has done in the Senate for the past 46 years: Advocate for universal quality health care, decent wages, and fair treatment for all workers and families. He made it clear that his work is not done and that he will be there to lead these fights as President Barack Obama's partner. What a powerful alliance that will be!

Then about an hour later, Michelle Obama electrified the crowd as she recounted how she and her brother and her husband Barack Obama epitomize the American Dream--growing up in working class families that struggled to make ends meet, with parents and grandparents who inspired their children to work and study hard, play by the rules, and set their sights as high as their imagination could take them.

But, like Kennedy, she was not satisfied to just recount the past. She talked eloquently and with deep devotion to her personal dual agenda: To public service as a lawyer dedicated to serving the most needy children and families in her community and to being the best mom she can be to her two children. In doing so she spoke for millions of working parents feeling the pressures of meeting these dual responsibilities, many who lack the financial resources, family back-ups, or job flexibility available to Michelle and Barack. Michelle and Barack understand this and that is whytogether they will fight to extend family and medical leave and paid sick leave to all working families.

But more than anything else, last night Michelle Obama illustrated the determination, and as Barack Obama said in his cameo TV appearance, the persistence, that will be needed to turn the country around so that we give our children with the same opportunity to realize their dreams as our parents gave us.

There was a tremendous sense of cross generation solidarity felt by people in that convention hall. Solidarity means working for the common good with a focus on the values that American families pass on from generation to generation. It is our time to do our part to get everyone in this country focused on these values that unify, not divide, Americans. I am glad we will have Ted Kennedy and Michelle and Barack Obama to lead us in this effort.