Debate season is over. Actually, I think its more accurate to say that Speach Season is over.
Speech Season started with Barack Obama’s, “A More Perfect Union Speech,” delivered last Father’s Day. After that speech, and after waves of love and hate rose in response to the spoken word, the prospect of presidential oratory skills re-entered the national imagination.
Fast forward to Sarah Palin’s speech at the RNC. I remember how she burst on the political scene and upped the game with her sharp verbal swords. I remember the oratorical shift, when Obama’s message of change got picked up by McCain, who’s breathy words at the RNC felt almost like a sigh of relief. He was so siked to have Palin on his team.
Glancing back at the DNC, I remember Bill Clinton’s speech and the tide of political applause that rose to greet him. I remember Hillary Clinton’s oratorical charge, and the stirring way she saluted the millions of Democrats who nearly nominated her. I remember Obama’s stadium speech, when he accepted the nomination. The one with fireworks, the one with the dramatic stage set, the one that reminded me of the mind blowing Opening and Closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The debates gave us the chance to hear as a nation. To watch as a nation. To feel as a nation the American Idol prime time selection process of the next president of the United States. From now till early November, we will generally see the candidates in bits and pieces, ads, local rallies, clips on the news.
But I will remember how it felt to watch speeches together, in a room full of students and teachers. And I will remember how it looked to walk down the blocks of Manhattan and Brooklyn and bear witness to America coalescing around the spoken word.
I remember. If America becomes more unified after the election, I will remember all the ways in which we, as a nation, are together. If America becomes more divided after the election, I will remember.
Stay tuned for more, from my favorite political poet.