I’m new to the world of political speeches. I’ve never much trusted politicians to present the facts fairly or clearly. This is mostly because I’m easy to reach on an emotional level; there were times during Obama’s speech that I was moved to tears. With regards to that quest for truth and even-handedness, I must admit to not having seen Mitt Romney’s speech. I’m clueless about how the other party is choosing to present themselves.
Much of the dialogue that I’ve been a part of surrounding the candidates has had to do with their varying opinions on the matter of women’s reproductive rights and the glass ceiling. As such, it stood out every time Obama made the point to use female pronouns to describe his hopes for the future. And when it came to abortion, he didn’t say the word or even go into details.
Sociologists talk about the importance of making the personal political as a motivator for people. Obama’s illustration of his successes, the young girl in Pheonix, for example, made them seem more real than the statistics that have been thrown around and argued over.
However, despite how much I felt myself agreeing with what he said, there were times and topics that left me, as ever, questioning the bipartisan system (voting for the lesser of two evils, it so often seems). His promise to promote democracy in the Middle East continues the sense of imposition and colonial influence that has shrouded the interactions of the West with the Arab world.
At the heart of it, it seems that politics is about showmanship. It’s about thanking the adoring fans who come out to listen to you speak, and giving them time to work themselves up. It’s about jokes, and sharp dressing. Obama asked his audience not to give into the cynicism that would hold us back; I’d still appreciate it if politics felt less like a beauty pageant than it does.