The importance of democracy – Barack Obama

The following is taken from President Barack Obama’s victory speech, November 7th, 2012. It’s an important message as it not only addresses certain sections of the US electorate who believe politics is posturing and ultimately vacuous, he is also talking to the rest of the world. All we see are the headlines, the infighting, the gossip, the inanity, the cost and it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that politics is real and can make a real difference. More importantly however, it shows democracy as a process in its infancy. It isn’t perfect, far from it, but it’s something that when used correctly,and effectively, with unity as its compass, then change is possible; real change.

Image from The Times


I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym or – or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you’ll discover something else.

You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organiser who’s working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.

You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter – the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future.

We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers – a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation – (scattered cheers, applause) – with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened up by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on Earth and the best troops this – this world has ever known – but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag – to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner – (cheers, applause) – to the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.

That’s the – that’s the future we hope for.

That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go – forward. That’s where we need to go.

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