On Sunday, trying to calm down a little before the Super Bowl, I went to C-Span and was caught up in the live rally there featuring labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, Oprah, Caroline Kennedy, Stevie Wonder, and Michelle Obama. After Michelle started speaking - and it was a stunning speech - I was wondering if Obama was going to speak at this particular rally, but I learned he was elsewhere. It was a rally well worth attending via TV. Michelle Obama's speech was one of the best pieces of political oratory I have heard in a long time. Actually I had never heard her speak, and had been roped by the media into thinking of her as the "garrulous wife."
She gave a heartfelt portrayal about life growing up in a bluecollar neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Her dad was a city employee and was able to provide for his family. Two of his children worked hard at their local public school and ended up attending Princeton. I suppose I felt a touch of envy mingled with pride at this. But Michelle Obama has not forgotten her roots. She made the very important point that what "regular folks" want are simple things, a decent-paying job, affordable healthcare, quality public education, equal opportunity, and a roof over their heads. But in the home of the free and the brave all of the above are often completely out of reach for regular folks! Regular folks don't want to be mulitmillionaires making their millions on the backs of others at home and abroad. They want safe and secure communities and family environments where their children and neighbors can live in peace and reach their full potential. She pointed out that Barack had always made choices in his life that put him on the side of poor and working families - regular folks. He could have been bought off easily after he was named editor of the Harvard Law Review, but he went to Chicago to work as a community organizer - that was for real, not just a bio opp. Then he spent 7 years in the the same State Legislature where Lincoln served. Both Michelle and Barack understand the problems real people face. They are both still paying off their Ivy League debts! The audience at UCLA was incredibly enthusiastic, all the colors of the rainbow, old and young. I sense there is a spirit in this country that is moving away from false lure of money and fame - doubtless because of brute reality - and moving toward realizing that there is a common dream for all us - well within our reach, a dream that is far more real than the soulless fantasies of personal aggrandizement and imperial wealth.