The conversations always begin the same way. A person on the street or at a job will spot my dark blue Obama '08 t-shirt and will feel a need to address it. The approach is often respectful, curious but reserved, interested but cautious. They want to know why I support him. Why is Obama causing a stir in the media? Why are the college kids fascinated with him? Is this an example of the Cult of Personality so clichéd over the years? Or, is there something else going on beneath the surface? People really want to know. As a long time supporter of the Senator, I feel the need to answer these observers. In this simple attempt, I might get it wrong. I might not understand what everyone else is thinking but I do know what is driving me. With humility and begging your patience, here is what I call the Audacity of Soap.
Piercing the night, gunshots rain out of the woods and fields in persistent attempts to thwart the British advance. How many lives were sacrificed in Revolutionary battles to obtain the God-given right to self-govern? Each son or daughter lost to that war did so for the far possibility that we might construct our own system of representative Democracy. Did they all die for the hope that we might build a system that doesn’t work? The splintered cogs of a warped construction were not the dream of those unrepresented by the old world. What they wanted was a new world, and with it a new leader kept in constant check by the firm opposition of free voices. They wanted an honest debate and a balance of powers. Eventually, those dreams were realized.
For two hundred years, each progressive generation added a new accent to the floor of Congress, a new perspective to the Senate and a wider vision for the country as a whole. For two hundred years, each conservative wall came tumbling down as blanket prejudices against Blacks, Catholics, Jews, Gays and Liberals were addressed and punctured with the spear of reason and compassion. No matter the fear or excuse, no matter the hesitation or doubt, nothing has ever been able to cool down the melting pot of our aspirations. We are dreamers, great dreamers who imagine splendid creations. We can’t help it really, we’re American. Our rise has not been one of tyranny but rather one of ingenuity. That persuasive desire towards inventiveness and social harmony continues today. It has never been hindered by the false ghosts of big brother’s intervention. It has even overcome the legal manipulations of loophole aristocracy. It is, in fact, bubbling up again, right now.
As the current pulleys and levers have rusted from neglect, we have become aware of a spiteful class war between the greedy and the cynical, between the Preachers of Armageddon and the Children of the World Wide Web. In this great reckoning, it is the children who have awakened. They are multitude and unbiased. They are uniquely color blind and innocently embracing a pragmatic figurehead who reminds us that a well oiled machine can best be run by those who believe in its purpose. It is this same machine that has survived every war and prospered through every famine. It is this same machine that has plowed a hundred thousand acres and built a million engines. Despite the rage of critics who insist that the machine is government, I believe that the young people know different. The machine is not an agency or firm, it is not a regulation or a tax. It is a synchronicity of intentions; it is a sincerity of resolve. It is a spirit that has been missing for many years, lying dormant under the agitational narcissism of bloated dogmatic idols. In this season of pressure and unrest, these idols have cracked and this spirit has been released to free us once again.
So often in his speeches Barack says, “This is bigger than me. This is about the American people. This is about the change they want to happen.” It is about us, not him. This awakening does not begin or end with Barack Obama. The Audacity of Hope of which he speaks is about changing the guards who are supposed to protect our liberties. Change is not enough, we want purity as well. The Audacity of Soap is a firm belief that we can scrub clean these reins of power. We can take them away from the corrupt, who have dirtied them with hypocrisy and deceit. The halls of democracy need to be cleansed from time to time. We seek to lend the reins to others who have only our temporary support. They will stand on the hill, charged with upholding the highest regard for their responsibilities. This is how it should be. The class war which pits Americans against each other has to end. New generations inevitably take over and bring with them fresh faces, absent of scars, gleaming with the promise of bold ambitions. These new faces dare to further the dreams fought for on colonial battlefields so long ago.
Perhaps it is a lot to ask of our young but it is their time to shine, and in this spectacular moment, they are more eager than ever before. They have a deep desire for justice, an abiding respect for the planet and a willingness to connect with all of the world’s people. This election is merely a symbol of a larger proclamation seeking decency and reconciliation. We all want to live in a better world and now many of us are ready to start building it. In November I will be voting for Barack Obama but always bear in mind that he embraced the message of our times and not the other way around.