In his speech accepting the presidential nomination at the
"So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me," the president said. "It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change.
"You're the reason there's a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage. You did that.
"You're the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he'd be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible.
"You're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home; why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: 'Welcome home.'"
As he asked for their votes, this was his way of reassuring the people who put him in office four years ago that their choice made a significant difference. Obama needed to reclaim the faith of those who were so enraptured by him as a fresh, historic candidate. Expectations for him in 2008 were so unrealistically high and the challenge facing him as he came into office so daunting, disappointment was inevitable.
Yet, Obama's catalog of accomplishments is actually impressive. Besides eliminating Osama bin Laden, saving the American automobile industry, ending the
In his speech, Obama was asking doubters to develop some political maturity, to dispense with cynicism and act as citizens.
"If you turn away now -- if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible ... well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10-million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control healthcare choices that women should make for themselves.
"Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you have the power to move us forward."
This convention showed that Obama plans to turn defense of his record into an offense. He described the continuing economic malaise -- what Republicans would say is his biggest vulnerability -- as evidence of a cleanup job so huge that no one could expect him to get it done in just four years. Defining his successes as markers on a hopeful path forward, he asked voters to continue the journey, letting go of regrets about following him in the first place.