I wrote this week on Open Salon about how, after 2000 and 2004, I no longer trust my electoral instincts. I shut down optimism quickly. As I put it, I've taught myself to view the electorate through Rove-colored glasses; most recently, I wasn't sure the Obama-Biden ticket had won the debates these last two weeks until I saw polls confirming that they did.
Conversely, in 2004 I was sure Bruce Springsteen's decision to publicly back the Democratic ticket and tour for John Kerry meant that his fans, even the conservative ones, would move to the Democrats. When he said, "the country that we carry in our hearts is waiting," I was sure Kerry would win. Of course, I was wrong; the country is still waiting. So I won't get too excited about Springsteen's weekend swing-state tour, and what it means. But I sure did like this speech, and you can watch his 42-minute set at the Philadelphia rally here.
"I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.
"I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.
"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.
"I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.
"They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.
"So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."