Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama's Victory Speech In Full

Barack Obama's Chicago victory speech from yesterday, in full. A cleaner, tighter, but sadly non-embeddable version is also available from the BBC.

There's a certain feeling in Australia almost of guilt. Of guilt because we care. This is America's election; this is an election happening to other people in another nation, across international seas. It's an election we don't vote in. We don't pick the candidates, we don't run the campaign, and ours is not the privilege to turn up to the voting booths on the big day. But still, we care.

Obama's victory yesterday was hugely emotional for any number of people. I am sure it is very welcome for a great many people in America, but it is also possessed of a powerful significance here in Australia. This matters to us, possibly more than our own Federal elections of last year. We care

The reason we care is that, for better or for worse, our wagon is hitched to America. At the close of the 19th century we may have been bannermen to the British Empire but by the dawn of the 21st we were all but the unacknowledged fifty-first United State.

And it felt bad. It felt bad to go to war for America. It felt bad to be apologists for America. It felt bad to be the henchmen to America's foreign-policy mad scientist. It felt like we were on the wrong side. Nobody wants to be Mussolini to somebody else's Hitler. Nobody wants to be the sidekick to someone who is inescapably wrong.

Strife may come and war may come but if they do let us at least know that we are engaged because of what we believe in. Let us believe in our own rightness. Let us do it on our own feet because we believe it is the necessary thing.

I think this is why Obama's victory matters. It's a thing America can be proud of. They can be proud that they have voted for the possibility of something better. There are hard times ahead, and they may have successes and they may have failures, but they will be able to say that they tried.

And it matters for us, for Australians, because once again we can feel that we're on the right side. It's been a long time since we were the proud battlers, since we were the lucky country, and that's been a loss I think we've all felt, but if Australia is to remember its own excellence it starts with the quiet assurance among ourselves that we are the good guys. And I think that, finally, that has begun.

This is a victory for all of Obama's campaign team, but I'd like to especially mention Obama's speechwriter, Jon Favreau (no relation to the Iron Man director). Working in concert with Obama, who I understand is a pretty decent speechwriter himself, Favreau's speechwork has been some of the most continually electrifying political rhetoric I have ever heard and I'd like to congratulate him for bringing a return to this consummate height of political address. The "ark of history" speech above is but one example; I think the speeches of this campaign are going to remembered and quoted and drawn from for a very long time to come, and that is an excellent thing.

Thanks, Jon.

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