The crowd awaited for hours outside and in. Doors opened at 6pm and a mad rush was made for the chance to be as close to the podium as possible. The place was sold out and some with stand-by tickets were allowed in while others waited outside. With chants and anticipation of 19,000 people filling the Toyota Center, the time FINALLY arrived about 8:45pm. No, this wasn’t a major rock concert or even a Hannah Montana venue, this was a democratic presidential candidate rally.
Odd? I was baffled at the amount of people that had shown up. I guess just not the amount of people, but the cross-cultural audience itself. I was amazed to see people of all ages and races cheering and supporting the same ideas as those sitting around them. Amongst the chants of “Barack Obama” and “Obama ’08,” the democratic candidate finally stepped out from behind the black curtain.
The crowd was boisterous, leading Obama to start off stating, “Houston, I think we’ve achieved liftoff here.”
After thanking those who were involved in and putting on the event, he made it a point to stress the importance that Texas will play in his nomination as the democratic candidate for the race in November.
“Early voting has started here in Texas. And so everybody has received one of these [voting] cards, and everybody knows that you can start voting today. And if you didn’t vote today, you can start tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. But we have early voting in Texas. I don’t want you to wait until March 4th. I want you to go ahead and start voting tomorrow here in Texas.
You’ve got February 19th until 29th to vote, and you can also vote on election day, March 4th.
Now, I know this was explained to you. This is a little confusing. You’re going to have to do two things for me now. Not only do you have to vote — and we would prefer you to vote early — but on election day, March 4th, you’re going to have to attend the caucus at 7 p.m. to get us a few more delegates. Can everybody do that, Houston? Everybody going to do that?
And on the back — on the back here are all the sites for all the early voting locations, so you don’t have an excuse for not going. And we want you to grab your cousin, and your uncle, and your niece, and your nephew. Don’t go alone. Take some friends and family to the polls.
He acknowledged his win in Wisconsin which the audience had seen projected on the screens aroud the Toyota Center prior to him coming out.
He repeated his rhetoric on hope and change that we have come to know as typical of his speeches, but he interlaced some of his plans for the types of change. Although I wish he would have elaborated more on just HOW some of the changes would be implemented, he gave a “cliff notes” version of his plans.
I put forward a plan that says everybody will be able to get health insurance that is at least as good as the plan I’ve got as a member of Congress. And if you already have health insurance, we will lower your premiums by $2,500 per family, per year. And if you can’t afford it, we will subsidize your care, and we will emphasize prevention so we have a health care system instead of a disease-care system.
And we won’t do this 20 years from now or 10 years from now. We will do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States of America.
Sounds great…but HOW???
He talked about how CEOs get tax breaks while the workers get nothing.
I want to take away those tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas. We’re going to give them to companies that invest right here in America.
And we’re going to rollback those Bush tax cuts that went to all the wealthy people, and we’re going to give tax cuts to ordinary families, people who are making less than $75,000. We will offset your payroll tax.
Senior citizens who make less than $50,000, we want to say to them: You don’t have to pay an income tax. You’re already having a hard time making ends meet.
We want to promote trade and we embrace globalization, but we also want our trade deals to have labor standards and environmental standards and safety standards so our workers aren’t undermined and our children aren’t playing with toys based in lead paint. That’s the change we want.
Great again! But HOW?
And I will raise the minimum wage not every 10 years, but to keep pace with inflation, because if you work in America you should not be poor. And that’s a goal that we should set for ourselves when I am president of the United States of America.
Nice goal, but unreachable in any immediate sense such as in 4 or 8 years.
As for education:
We can assure that every child in America has the best education this country has to offer… every child needs to be nurtured and embraced. And so we are going to invest in early childhood education to close the achievement gap.
And I won’t just talk about how great teachers are; I will reward them for their greatness…by giving them higher salaries and giving them more support.
And I want the highest standards in our schools. We have to have high standards, standards of excellence in order to compete in this global economy. But I don’t want our standards measured just by a single high-stakes standardized test, because I don’t want our teachers teaching to the tests.
I want our students learning art, and music, and science, and literature, and social studies.
And I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time we made college affordable for every young person in America. So we’re going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year, but, students, you’re going to have to give back something in return. You’re going to have to participate in community service. You’re going to have to work in a homeless shelter, or a veteran’s home, or an underserved school, or join the Peace Corps.
Hey, I think this is one of his best ideas yet. We don’t have enough young people getting involved in their communities. Had this been an opportunity for me, I would have been more than happy to pay back my loans in this way. By the way, here is his plan for Lifetime Success Through Education. Is there a reason why he didn’t mention that some of this funding comes from our space program? Oh wait, this is Houston – home of the Johnson Space Center.
Next was talk on energy and immigration, phrasing that immigration has been used as a “political football.”
We can get serious about our borders and crack down on employers who are taking advantage of undocumented workers and undermining U.S. labor.But we can also provide a pathway for those who are living here. They can pay a fine and learn English and go to the back of the line, but we’ve got to give them an opportunity, too. We’re a nation of immigrants.
Of course the war in Iraq came up with the billions of dollars that have been and will continue to go in to the fight.
We are spending $9 billion a month in Iraq, $9 billion. We can invest that money in rebuilding roads and bridges and hospitals right here in Houston, building schools, laying broadband lines, putting people back to work, employing young men and young women in our inner cities, in our rural communities. We can create the kind of foreign policy that will make us safe and will lead to renewed respect of America around the world.
Respect? We’re still going to be seen as power and money-hungry Americans who can never get our fill. Hey, I’m right.
We will hunt down terrorists; yes, we will lock down loose nuclear weapons that could do us harm. But we are also going to lead on climate change. We’re also going to lead on helping poor countries deal with the devastation of HIV-AIDS. We’re also going to lead in bringing an end to the genocide in Darfur.
We are going to lead by example, by maintaining the highest standards of civil liberties and human rights, which is why I will close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus and say no to torture.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I really like Barack; however, knowing that he doesn’t have any military experience, I urge him to sit down one-on-one with military issues and discuss Guantanamo and torture. That’s all I’ll say about that.
While John McCain’s wife was mocking Obama’s wife, Michelle’s comments about being “proud of America for the first time,” Obama praised McCain’s military service and called him an American hero but disagreed with McCain’s support of Bush’s economic policies.
He says that change isn’t going to be easy and that change is also attitude but it can be done. While I admire his push for change by driven hope, I came away from last night’s speech with little more than what I started in with. I really didn’t learn anything more about how these changes will take place or if there are actual plans rather than just a “plan” such as an idea. I’m a very detailed-oriented person and I want specifics.
One thing is certain, Obama has that certain appeal that Bill Clinton had when talking to an audience. When he speaks, you listen. He stands tall and projects himself with a positive and confident aura. Kool-aid wasn’t passed out at this rally so I’m beginning to think that it’s something in the air and coming through the airwaves that has made democrats follow him like the pied piper. 🙂
Here is the complete transcript of his speech.