In Gleason Theater on Thursday, Sept. 6, more than 50 students watched as President Barack Obama delivered a rousing oration, a call to supporters and an unequivocal expression of his dedication to the cause he’s been championing since well before his 2004 appearance at the same convention. Some cried, some nodded in silent approval and some remained fixated.
His speech resonated with the rest of the country, too. A recent Gallup poll revealed that Obama received more support from his convention appearance than did Mitt Romney, showing that the President’s message leaves a more meaningful impression than his opponent. Yet it’s worth taking a look at the deeper significance of the President’s success at the Democratic National Convention; we find a speech rooted in substance, packed with potential.
As Vice President Joe Biden described, there are “two different visions, two different value sets.” What Obama tapped into in Charlotte was not a rhetorical means, but rather the inspiration of a shared vision and values. His language was given the full weight of a near-full term, in which his actions as president mirrored precisely the beliefs this nation summoned to elect him in 2008. What Obama has done already, especially for college students, inspires confidence in him as our nation’s leader for another term.
The President mentioned his administration’s healthcare achievements, which includes a provision allowing anyone under 26 to stay on his or her parents’ insurance; exactly the type of change he campaigned on.
What you won’t hear explicitly mentioned in a convention speech are the numerous policies enacted in the last three and a half years that show, even when the media isn’t watching, Obama has our interests in mind. His new healthcare legislation, for example, creates a new, cheap type of health insurance for those under 30.
Perhaps the loudest applause in the theater came when Obama discussed education. He spoke on college affordability and support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, but what gave those words power are results already manifested in policies enacted on his watch. Obama doubled Pell Grants and used his limited political capital to get Congress to act before interest rates on certain federal loans doubled.
Obama doesn’t rest on his past achievements alone; he lays out a clear path on how to move forward. He’s confirmed his commitment to issues facing the college demographic in many of ways. If re-elected, Obama could follow through on his “Race to the Top” program — in which state governments and community partners would plan ways to reduce college tuition costs, with the winning states receiving federal funds to make it happen.
It was not the rhetoric that brought students to tears last Thursday, though. It wasn’t the broad-stroke way the President portrayed his vision for America, nor the allusions to our uniquely shared American experience. We got fired up because our parents now have healthcare; because we came to UR on a Pell Grant; because we can study abroad and be proud of where we’re from.
Obama proved himself worthy of the mammoth stage before arriving in North Carolina, and his heartfelt speech was a reminder of that. He’s earned our support, and he deserves an encore.
Cutillo is a member of the class of 2013.