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’60’s Idealism, ’08 Style


In a recent post, on the anniversary of the death of Bobby Kennedy, I eluded to the stirrings of my “idealistic flame” when I listened to Barack Obama on the night of his last primary victory and basically winning of the Democrat Party nomination.

Many months ago, in conversation with a close friend, I had shared the fact that when I heard Barack at the 2004 DNC, where I was an alternate delegate for Kerry, and then again on the primary trail, I could see why the younger generation could and would be stirred by his oratory and vision of “hope” and “change”. In sharing this observation, and still not committed myself to a candidate, I could see that not many shared my belief in what I was seeing.

This week in Mother Jones Magazine, 72 year old investigative reporter James Ridgeway, wrote a column entitled “Seeing Bobby Kennedy in Barack Obama.

Ridgeway states that “The times are different, and so are the men. But then again.” He goes on to make a powerful point: “Hope, like greatness, is a thing some men have thrust upon them. They emerge as repositories for the fine yearnings of a confused and bitter nation, a mirror in which we see ourselves reflected not as the people we are, but as the people we would like to be-and may, because of them, inch slightly closer to becoming. Whether or not they are worthy of such faith is, in the end, less important than the fact that they inspire us to be more worthy ourselves.”

In Obama’s Minnesota speech, I heard the faint refrains of Winston Churchill plus FDR, adding a flavor of Lincoln verb-age and Ronald Reagan genuineness. As Obama talked through the applause, stating over and over, “this is the time…” one could almost hear Churchill saying “…this was their finest hour”.

Those that are captivated by Obama seem to be the type who are not afraid to wear their heart on their sleeves, those who dream of “duty to others” knowing that it brings about good for us all; that we can be more compassionate and more just; that we can do more than lower taxes and building walls to keep people out.

In one of his final speeches, Robert Kennedy stated, “…remember,…that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as we do, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.”

It would appear that Obama has the same sense of duty that Kennedy had and as Ridgeway stated in Mother Jones Magazine, “…somewhere inside his chest there seems to be a beautiful human heart, which is something we haven’t had in the White House for a good long time.”

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