By now, you've probably seen Barack Obama's speech on race and politics. And if you haven't, you should really watch it. For my money, it was one of the best pieces of oratory I've ever witnessed.
Straight down the line - content, structure, style, and delivery - this was a great speech. I mean, it was transcendant. There is not a politician, in the US presidential race or possibly anywhere, who is putting out this kind of quality. It's a lesson taught by JFK forgotten by so many today- if you can inspire people, they will follow you anywhere. And Obama has also learned that the greatest tool of inspiration isn't money or self-interest, but hope. His speech was ultimately all about hope, and not a glib, empty-calorie version either. Real, meaningful hope that a better world is possible. A more perfect union.
Here's a great section (first flagged by EM):
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
Now watch the video (this passage starts around 29:30). That is one powerful 'Or'. Brilliant.