Obama's Message

Just a few hours prior to Obama's speech tonight, my mother phoned. She didn't call to talk politics or inquire about my excitement preceding Obama's biggest moment, but she called to talk about simple things. My mother has always had very little to say politically, focusing rather on her three children, my stepfather and the people close to her. Her only close voice on the political front comes from my stepfather, a retired New Jersey police officer and ardent republican. Since he's within distance every day, she's always sided with him. And he is not one even open to discussion. He loved Reagan, Bush I, and remains a staunch supporter of Bush II.

As we were about to hang up, I asked my mother one more time to tune in tonight. She said that she was tired and was off to bed. Before letting her go, I inquired, "Hasn't anything he's said influenced you?" and to my absolute astonishment, she uttered, "I do think he's for the middle class. I think he's for the workers." I nearly dropped the phone.

For the first time in 12 years, the democratic message is sinking into the folks who's lives are most positively impacted by the democratic agenda, yet, as we all know, these are the folks who almost unanimously vote for the right. The wonderful book What's the Matter with Kansas? highlighted this mystery of American politics. The party of the elite and privileged has somehow literally owned the middle class for decades. This massive chunk of society has been duped by the right and led to believe time-and-again that their interests lie in the voice of the republican party.

This one line from my mother speaks volumes. And although all of Obama's advisers and supporters will be glued to the media's reaction to his 60-plus minute speech, it was my mother's minor awakening that is likely most important to Obama's chances of winning the presidency. Neither Gore nor Kerry could reach this audience, the audience that will ultimately decide the election. But Barack Obama has not only made a dent, but he's opening up the eyes of the biggest skeptics. This is change indeed.