I’ve been thinking most of today about Barack Obama’s speech on race and American society; while we’ve tried to avoid too much horserace type commentary here in the last couple of months, I don’t think that this fits well under horse race politics. Before the speech, if you’d asked me which candidate I’d support if I could vote, I’d have said Obama. After the speech, it’s quite different.
I’ve lived in the US for the last four years as a permanent resident, and been quite happy here. Hearing Obama speak made me feel for the first time that I genuinely want to become a citizen of this country and a part of the larger project that he talked about, regardless of specific disagreements I might have. You hear a lot of guff in politicians’ speeches about how great America is; Obama seemed to me to be challenging America to be great, which is a very different and much riskier thing, as well as something I find much more compelling and attractive. Obviously, I’m only speaking for myself here (other CTers’ mileage may vary widely), and I’m not going to talk about it any more, but I felt it would be dishonest if I said nothing (which would be the easier option for an academic, I think; we’re not supposed to talk about sincere personal commitments without some degree of ostentatious sighing, display of jaded skepticism etc).