Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Political inspiration...

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I decided to put a compilation together of three political video and audio files that I find to be inspirational.

I've been feeling rather unenthused by the recent crop of political news stories. Judge Roberts is a redundant issue, regardless of his viewpoint... Bush has earned his mandate and as Democrats, within reason, we should respect that. We await with anticipation Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's report on the Valerie Plame incident come October. Cindy Sheehan has now merely metamorphosed into another conduit via which the left and right can demonize each other as a respective threat to national security. Prospective nominees are aplenty for 2008, and without fail, they are all uninspiring.

Around the world there's an election in Germany next month, and, if you can believe it, a female, East-German, right winger is likely to be elected Chancellor. The brave step taken by the Israeli government in the Gaza Strip will hopefully be one small step on the long road to peace and reconciliation. Poverty, disease, killing, corruption, and terrorism thrives in the parts of the world our eyes aren't typically trained upon.

Two recent posts gave me pause for thought. One by Gert, and a particular point he made about Tony Blair's democratic mandate for the Iraq war, and the other by Alice, on the need to focus upon specific issues, and problems, while scrutinizing potential candidates not simply in terms of who might win, but also in terms of what they stand for.

Both comments left me with the same sense of purpose looking forward to 2008. Politics is the means by which we can make a difference. But at the very best of times politician's lift us up, not the other way around... They educate us, unite us, and remind us that our greatest strength resides in what we can accomplish together.

In the spirit of recognizing this precious role here are three, particularly special moments in political history from both the left and right. If you have half an hour to kill at work or at home and you want to be reminded why the political process plays such an important role in influencing change then I highly recommend checking out these clips:

MARIO CUOMO - 1984 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION ADDRESS
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This is an audio file, including pictures, and a transcript of the text. If anyone can locate a link to the video let me know and I'll swap it round. This is a towering, idealistic speech, that is both eloquent and thematic... Cuomo doesn't always carry the emotion of his audience quite as expertly as the next two individuals, but the speech is so beautifully written, the words themselves take you on powerful journey.

RONALD REAGAN - 1964, SPEECH FOR BARRY GOLDWATER
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This is a Real Media video file. This was Reagan's first real noteworthy address, and it is one of the most compelling, passionate evocations of the role of liberty and individual freedom in people's lives and the threat that government can pose. Reagan was so charismatic because he cared so much about the principles that he stood for.

BILL CLINTON - 1992, SECOND PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
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This is also a Real Media video file. This features a pivotal much talked about moment when Bush Snr. is pressured by a member of the public asking a question about the way in which the nation's economic troubles have affected his day to day life. Bush is, for a moment at least somewhat at a loss. Clinton's clever and iconic response was to ask the questioner, "How have (those troubles) affected you?" And with that, according to Primary Colors author, Joe Klien, his election victory was sealed. The most notable thing about this clip is that when Bush gains his stride, he actually doesn't do that badly. But just look at the difference in the questioner's eyes as Clinton talks to her as opposed the President. Note also the way in which he parses the big theoretical economic questions of the time into terms that everyone could grasp. What I love so much about Clinton was that he never, ever, insulted the intelligence of his audience.

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