Originally published in The Metropolitan. Sept. 4, 2008. The Metropolitan covered the Democratic National Convention. Never before had the staff of the college newspaper attempted such a feat. Following the convention, the paper published a special section highlighting each of the days’ events.
Four days and 45 years in the making, before anyone realized it happened, a dream became reality.
On the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, a man filled with hope and passion — and maybe just enough smarts to outsmart the Republicans this election cycle — came to Denver to accept the nomination as the party’s presidential candidate.
The man that would defy odds — and the Clintons — would be Sen. Barack Obama.
When it was evident Obama had received enough votes to become the Democratic nominee, his staff teamed up with the Democratic Convention Committee to plan an acceptance speech fit for only Obama. They would move the convention from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field at Mile High.
As far as the eye could see from every direction, streams of people by the hundreds and thousands formed lines converging on the shiny and silver Mile High Stadium. This was what Denver and the history books had been waiting for: the long journey under the baking sun to the climax of the week, the grand finale and a dream realized.
In front of 80,000 people Obama took to the stage. Unlike his previous speeches filled with ambitious rhetoric, the senator laid out his vision of America and took his opponent, Sen. John McCain, to the mat.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to take a 10 percent chance on change,” Obama said referencing
McCain’s voting record. Obama said the Republican senator has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time.
Obama shared his own policies on the economy, energy, education, health care, the war in Iraq and America’s overall global presence.
Obama promised a tax cut to 95 percent of America’s working families.
“I don’t believe Sen. McCain doesn’t care,” Obama said. “I just don’t think he knows (about the middle class).”
Obama also promised to eliminate tax cuts for companies who export jobs and give them to companies who keep jobs in America. He would also eliminate the capital gains tax breaks.
The senator pledged America would be free from foreign oil — for the sake of the economy and security of the country — in 10 years. He will fund this incentive with $150 billion.
“Today we have tripled the amount of imported fuels than we did when Sen. McCain took office,” he said. “Now is the time to change this addiction.”
Obama said he would establish a “world-class education system” for America.
The senator said one of the reasons he was able to stand at the 50-yard line was because of his education and the opportunities he and his wife received.
“I will not settle for an America where some kids do not have that chance,” he said.
Promising to recruit an army of teachers, he said he will demand higher standards and early education with a complete reform.
The senator briefly noted his policies on health care saying he understands the plight of Americans and that he wants every American covered.
Obama also took a moment to mention his goal of creating a policy that would ensure equal pay for both genders.
“I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons,” he said.
Playing the war card late, Obama challenged McCain to a game of character, claiming he would be the best commander-in-chief.
“If John McCain wants to follow George Bush, that’s his choice,” he said alluding to McCain’s policy on the War in Iraq. “But that’s not the change America needs. Don’t tell me the Democrats won’t keep America safe.
“You don’t defeat a terrorist organization that operates in 80 countries by fighting in Iraq,” he said.
The nominee said he would end the war responsibly and would rebuild the army but would never hesitate to defend this country. “I got news for you John McCain, we all put our country first,” he said to a standing ovation.
After laying out his policies, Obama returned his address to the audience.
“This election has never been about me, it’s been about you,” he said.
Obama said with the trust and hard work of the American people he can help restore greatness to the country. It will be very hard, however, he said.
“It is that American spirit that pushes us forward even when the path is unclear,” he said. “I believe as hard as it will be, change is coming.”
Obama stressed not only individual duty to country but mutual responsiblity.
“We cannot walk alone,” he said. “We cannot turn back, America. We cannot turn back when so much work has to be done.”