live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.
That was America’s promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream and we knew it.
But today that American dream feels as if it’s slowly slipping away. I don’t need to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives.
I’ve never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up. Almost every night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I look out the window at the homes we pass, I can almost hear what they’re talking about at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed.
Like millions of Americans, they’re asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask:
Should mom move in with us now that dad is gone?
Fifty, sixty, seventy dollars to fill up the car?
Winter’s coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills?
Another year and no raise?
Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?
Now, we owe more on the house than it’s worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?
How are we gonna be able to retire?
That’s the America that George Bush has left us, and that’s the future John McCain will give us. These are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard and played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.
That promise is the bedrock of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now it’s in jeopardy. I know it. You know it. But John McCain doesn’t get it.
Barack Obama gets it. Like many of us, Barack worked his way up. His is a great American story.
You know, I believe the measure of a man isn’t just the road he’s traveled; it’s the choices he’s made along the way. Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his ticket to Wall Street. But that’s not what he chose to do. He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side. There he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams deferred. Their dignity shattered. Their self-esteem gone.
And he made their lives the work of his life. That’s what you do when you’ve been raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That’s how you come to believe, to