President Obama’s acceptance speech was delivered to a tired yet electrified crowd at the convention, but to a fresh TV audience. Many of the delegates were expecting either a “red meat speech” to the base or another of the classic Obama silver-tongued oration. If one had such hopes, they would have been thoroughly disappointed. However, many who had simply tuned into Obama’s speech at primetime thought he had done a swell job of communicating his message to the American people. Still, I believe it would be safe to say he did not deliver the greatest remarks of the evening, so I have prepared my list of the top ten speeches.
10. Mayor Julian Castro
The keynote speaker both described his inspirational journey of poverty to politics and outlined clear and concise reasons to re-elect President Obama. As someone who truly lived American Dream, Mayor Castro and his twin brother State Representative (and soon Congressman) Joaquin Castro studied hard to receive scholarships to Stanford University and Harvard Law School. Castro, only 37, provided a key roadmap of what the future of Texas politics will look like. Perhaps the reason I found his speech so inspiring if because as a Texan, it inspired me that Mayor Castro will most likely be my state’s next Governor.
9. Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden
Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Biden, delivered an inspirational speech to nominate his father for another term as Vice President. Beau Biden discussed the many hardships his father has had to bear, including most notably losing his first wife, Beau’s mother, and one of his children in an accident with a drunk driver just months before Joe Biden took his senate seat. Beau Biden further outlined the many great accomplishment his father has done since taking office.
8. Mayor Cory Booker
Mayor Booker of Newark, New Jersey delivered a red-meat speech to the blue-meat crowd. As the presenter of this year’s platform, the first to endorse Marriage Equality, he highlighted the themes of inclusion, justice, and equality within the platform. It also included key provisions to help veterans return home and balancing the budget without devastating working people. He stated that the wealthy being asked to pay higher taxes “isn’t class warfare—it’s patriotism”.
7. Congressman John Lewis
John Lewis, the former Civil Rights icon and leader of the SNCC, reminisced of his time fighting for basic Civil Rights and being beaten to a pulp for attempting to wait in a white waiting room. Lewis then compared disenfranchisement by Southern governments in the 1960s to the Voter ID acts of today. Lewis then tearfully stated that “we will not go back”, and then contrasted the statement for Obama’s theme of “forward”. Congressman Lewis was given a long applause and ovation by the convention crowd
6. First Lady Michelle Obama
The First Lady’s speech was simply beautiful. Her ability to cast the President as a kind, emotional, real figure in contrast to his aloofness was unbelievably successful. The First Lady was able to paint a truly human side to her husband. This was a complete 180 from the robot commonly associated with Governor Mitt Romney.
5. Governor Deval Patrick
I know I mentioned Governor Patrick before, but he just gave a simply fantastic speech. His comments about Democrats growing a spine put chills in mine. Also, after the farce of the soft homophobes at the 2004 DNC in Boston, I was really glad to see someone redeem the errors of the past.
4. Governor Brian Schweitzer
Governor Schweitzer of Montana spoke to the crowd in a folksy eloquence that I only saw matched by President Clinton. Governor Schweitzer highlighted the importance of not raising taxes on the poor, as he alleged Governor Romney did while in office. He also highlighted the success of Montana to successfully expand and strengthen its education system. Schweitzer has led the conservative state to certain liberal ideals, including the legalization of medicinal cannabis and suing the Federal Government over the Citizens United ruling.
3. Senator John Kerry
After Senator Kerry’s speech, I looked at the people around me and proclaimed, “Who was that guy who looked and sounded like John Kerry and where that man was being detained in 2004?” Senator Kerry was cool, relaxed, cracking jokes, and quite personable during his speech, mostly the opposite of his presidential candidate persona. Additionally, Senator Kerry was able to connect with the base without alienating the middle. Kerry highlighted the common critique of Romney’s inability to hold a steady position on many issues, mentioning the former attack against him of being “for it before he was against it”.
2. President Bill Clinton
President Clinton amazed me, with his flagship ability to take extremely complex, mundane political issues and simplify them with his folksy wits into an equation that is comprehensible for all Americans. President Clinton discussed his abilities to balance the budget, criticized Republican attacks on Obama’s record vis-à-vis welfare reform, and complemented his stewardship of the economy. Clinton stated that the mess that Obama inherited was far worse than the one he inherited, and that there would have been also an anemic recovery if he were the President. Finally, Clinton stated the need to curb defense spending and raise taxes on the wealthy, stating that was the way the budget was balanced in his day, or as he called it, “simple arithmetic”.
1. Governor Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Granholm, the former Governor of Michigan, gave a rousing speech on President Obama’s saving of the auto industry. She heavily criticized Governor Romney’s statement of “Let Detroit go bankrupt”, and lauded the President’s “guts” in helping Detroit. Towards the end of the speech, she began touting the numbers of jobs saved by the auto loans, throwing her arms and at times jumping up and down, yelling and powering through the heavy applause. But perhaps the greatest line of Governor Granholm’s speech, and perhaps even the greatest line of the convention, was that “In Mitt Romney’s world, the cars get the elevators, and the workers get the shaft”, a reference to Romney’s infamous car elevator.