There is a bigger question before us tonight than whether and when Barack Obama will be named the nominee of the Democratic Party for 2008, though that eventuality is, I promise you, a certainty.
The bigger question is this: what are you and I going to do, what role are we going to play in this the second election cycle in what has been a battle for governance of the United States? And, more importantly, what, collectively, will our actions, our words and our organization mean to the Democratic Party and to the future of our nation in 2008?
There is so much to do.
Now is the moment we've been waiting for.
Some will focus on the historic fact that Barack Obama will be the first candidate of color to be the nominee of his or her party in a campaign for President. To that observation I have one simple rejoinder, get used to it.
We are a nation rich in talent, blessed with diversity, and home to a chorus of voices whose harmonies, whose fundamental unity, is more profound than we've seen represented in those bi-annual photographs of our elected officials in Washington.
We are one people and we will choose, henceforth, only the best, the brightest and the most capable to be our leaders irrespective of identity, faith, skin color, gender, economic upbringing or regional background.
That is what the candidacy of Barack Obama means. It means something to all of us regardless of who we are or what our personal story holds. If Barack Obama can be President then your child might someday be President, too, if he or she works hard and is dedicated to the task at hand.
In Barack Obama, we send a message to the world from America, we choose our leaders by their ability to lead. Barack Obama has proven that with his path-breaking and exceptional campaign and his life's work. When, previously, has a challenger won the nomination of their party against the presumed nominee and favorite daughter? Senator Obama is poised to do just that. At the outset, few thought that possible. Some, to their credit, believed. Some, true heroes, put their actions and dollars behind their beliefs.
All of us, whomever we supported in this process, will have a moment to pause and collect ourselves when that nomination happens. We will be witnesses to history.
But this election is about more than that. It's about us, the children of the elections of 2004 and 2006. It's about what we choose to do with that legacy in 2008. Let me explain...
Vote for Change
Look at this list and click on a few of the links:
U.S. Representative John Barrow, 12th District, Georgia
U.S. Representative Melissa Bean, 8th District, Illinois
Anna Burger, Chair, Change to Win
Maria Elena Durazo, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Melissa Etheridge, Musician
Billy Frank Jr., Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
Reverend Joseph Lowery, Chairman, Black Leadership Forum
Dave Matthews, Musician
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Missouri
Secretary Norman Mineta, Former Secretary of Transportation
Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts
Usher Raymond IV, Musician
U.S. Representative Linda Sanchez, 39th District, California
Kerry Washington, Actress
These are the national co-chairs of the most massive, national, coordinated, volunteer-driven voter registration drive in our nation's history: VOTE FOR CHANGE
Let's talk about that for one second.
We lost a presidential election in 2004 despite the fact that there was record voter turnout that year. Why did that happen? When more voters go to the polls that has always favored Democrats, the party of voting, the party of change. In 2004, the Republican party under Karl Rove did to us what we are about to do to them. They registered voters and got them to the polls.
Vote for Change is our answer to that.
An unprecedented 60+% of the new voters Barack Obama registered in this nomination cycle went to the polls to vote. Think about that. We are going to duplicate that percentage nationwide starting now, in May. We are going to register millions of new voters and add them to our nation's voter rolls permanently. We are going to expand our democracy in 2008.
Remember the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? I remember them because a few of us here on Dailykos, including diarists like me and Mike S, started telling the truth about them around this time in the cycle last go round, before they launched their website. We were right about the Swift Boats. We were right from day one.
This project is the 2008 answer to that. The result will be our antidote to Swift Boats: Voters. New voters. Registered and empowered to Vote for Change. This weekend is the kickoff to this effort. You can sign up for Vote for Change before day one right now. You can be a part of history in 2008.
Whomever you supported in this nomination process, now's a chance to get in on the ground floor of a voter registration drive that will literally change America from the bottom up.
We are in this Together
In the coming days, I will be writing pragmatic focused diaries about making progressive change in 2008, about what we can do when we work together. There is not a single American of goodwill who is not needed in this effort. This is pragmatic, grassroots, concrete stuff.
We cannot do this without the participation, from the beginning, of members of the American family from every community, region, race and creed. And these leaders, young and old, men and women, need to be true stakeholders in the promise represented by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
Symbolism is nice. Partnership, shared power and true coalition building are what gets things done in the United States..
When Barack Obama says that change begins from the bottom up, he means it. That means you.
And if you live in a red state, or in a red part of a blue state or come from an underrepresented community of color, especially an immigrant community not on the political radar of America, that especially means you. We need you now more than ever.
We will not get Health Care reform or Energy and Environmental reforms, or fair and just immigration reform, or a peaceful resolution to the War in Iraq without the cooperation of every citizen of goodwill in every state. We need to expand our coalition. We don't just need Democrats in California and New York and Minnesota. We need Democrats and sympathetic friends in Texas and North Carolina and Colorado and Montana and Florida and Arkansas.
I know you are out there. I know that your politics are just as valid as my own. We are equals. We are Americans. We don't see eye to eye on everything. What matters is that we are in this together and working as one.
That's our touchstone moment. We have come, unbelievably, after our victories in the House and the Senate, after our wins in the race for Governorships and State Legislatures, after our work to cultivate fresh progressive leaders wherever we might find them, we have come to a moment we could not have dreamed possible a little over four years ago.
But dreams are just that. Empty visions until we make them real with hard work and dedication, and, yes, learning from our mistakes. Democracy is a process. That process, that hard work begins now.
Barack Obama is not simply asking for you to believe in what's possible, he's asking us to work to make the possible real. That is all of our jobs. And it will be, if we elect him President, our duty and task going forward one pragmatic step at a time for years to come.
Savor this moment, but better yet, savor this moment and make a pledge to register a voter this weekend. That's true patriotism. That's what it means to be an American.
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!