Canadians can be forgiven if for the past eight years we have held our maple leafs even tighter our chest while our American neighbours got embroiled in an unpopular war, endured the national shame of Hurricane Katrina, and suffered a rapid economic downturn. However, as the 2008 US election cycle moves into its final phase, Barack Obama’s historic night in Denver, watched by Canadians from coast to coast, might have left more than a few of us rather envious and asking: When was the last time we were as passionate about our politics?
DENVER, CO—Forty-five years to the day when Dr. Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to famously declare “I have a dream,” Barack Obama, the democratic senator from Illinois, stepped into history and that promise by accepting his party’s nomination to become the first African-American nominee of any party for president of the United States.
Nothing in the way Barack Obama has waged his historic candidacy has spoken to politics as usual and in staging his nomination in front of a mile-high crowd of more than 84,000 at Invesco Field — the only other candidate to accept his party’s nomination on such a scale was John. F. Kennedy in 1960 — Mr. Obama succeeded in pulling off one of the greatest feats of political pageantry in American history.
With lines stretching for miles around the stadium, the thousands who waited patiently in the Denver heat were moved to tears and a pin-drop silence, amid a sea of American flags and signs calling for ‘change’, as a video biography of the young senator’s life played on giant screens that backed high onto the Denver night sky.
As diverse as they were vast, the crowd made up of blacks, whites, Hispanics, college kids, senators, celebrities, and blue collar American families from every corner of the union — all sitting side by side — prompted many observers to wonder whether this moment, was in fact was what Dr. King’s dream, boldly declared on another warm August evening, might have looked like.