The Hammer Museum was alive last night with avid Obama supporters, including myself and my 2 good friends, George & Frances. Red, white, and blue adorned the railings, the trees, the windows, even the carpet in their lobby gallery dedicated to the election in which they hung the portrait of Obama once CNN projected him to win. (Romney’s portrait was left alone on the floor… Poor guy…)
I waited way past my bedtime (which tends to be around 10:30pm…) just to hear the re-elected president’s speech and it was well worth it. He is a number of great things as a leader of our country, but man alive, is he a great orator! He supposedly spent 8 days on the speech which I could believe. He seems to have roused a disenchanted country and re-invigorated the need for action from the ground up with an impressive 97-electoral-vote lead, popular vote lead, and topped it off with a victory speech to remember, much like the cherry on top a big, fat chocolate fudge sundae.
I can’t help but share my own highlights of the speech, and even if you voted for Romney or for the Green or Libertarian parties, you cannot deny that much of what Obama says rings true for all Americans across party lines.
First, I have to plug UCLA Samahang Pilipino for teaching me a great ideology to live by – Isang Bagsak, which directly translated from Tagalog means “One fall.” After each general meeting, board meeting, or social, we’d gather together in a circle and announce “Isang Bagsak” to the world – we are a group of like-minded folks who fall together and rise together in issues that befall the greater community. We organize for the WWII Pilipino veterans in LA and around the country who had fought for decades for the same veteran rights as everyone else. We maintain the activist spirit of students before us and fight for diversity at the university. We provide services to our high school students at Marshall and Belmont and our college students at El Camino to ensure their future spots at our universities, and provide services to UCLA students who struggle to graduate. We do it all because we rise together, we fall together.
And Obama, bless his heart, plugged the same ideology.
The task of perfecting our union… moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.
Next- we are a great, diverse nation. We may be split literally right down the middle on issues of economics, women’s rights, gay rights, immigration, what have you, but Obama said it best when he spoke about our liberty to argue.
…[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. 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.
People die everyday around the world for the ability to speak their minds. Governments elsewhere expend destructive resources to ostracize political dissenters, most in degrees that result in unthinkable torture and murder. We Americans have the privilege to befriend people of different religions, different sexuality, different political party, different race than our own. We uphold our freedom of speech in everything we do.
And, for me, the most resounding point in the entire speech reminded how blessed I am to be an American citizen.
This country has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
I thank my mom and her sisters every day for working so hard despite the long wait and frustrating bureaucratic system to emigrate to Hawaii all those years ago. I am proud to be Pilipino American.