But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.Okay, this strikes me as somewhere between grandiose and cornball. I'm not there in the crowd, where it might have worked very well. But these things are supposed to work on TV and YouTube. I don't want a preacher for President, though — and I know this will sound like a contradiction — I've been excited about the potential for Barack Obama to inspire us and transform us spiritually. But I have a problem with "Yes we can." It means: I can win the Presidency.
Yes we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.
And so tomorrow, as we take this campaign South and West; as we learn that the struggles of the textile worker in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America's story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea –
Yes. We. Can.
That's a very ordinary thing that any candidate wants to say to his supporters, so what makes it deserve this comparison to founding the country, ending slavery, and going to the moon? I've never before noticed that he was saying we ought to make him President so that America can have its first black President. But he seems to be saying that now.
Or maybe he's only saying that he's been inflating people with big hopes and the bad old Clintons have been trying to puncture them and we shouldn't let them.
ADDED: Glenn Reynolds is reminded of this:
But I thought first of this:
But if we're going to talk about children's stuff, there's this:
IN THE COMMENTS: Blue Moon writes:
"Yes we can" = "Si se puede" which was a slogan used by the late Cesar Chavez. "Yes we can" is intended to be code to Hispanic voters and remind them of the United Farm Workers and Chavez's crusade for better wages and better treatment.Blue Moon cites the upcoming primaries in states with a large proportion of Hispanic voters. Not just Hispanic voters, I'd say, but union members. I see the Chavez theory already enshrined in the Wikipedia article about the slogan:
Sí se puede (Spanish for "Yes, It can be done!") is the motto of the United Farm Workers. In 1972, during Cesar Chavez's 25 day fast in Phoenix, Arizona, he and UFW's co-founder, Dolores Huerta came up with the slogan....
Sí se puede is usually translated in English, colloquially, as "yes, we can." The more literal translation that the United Farm Workers uses is "Yes, It can be done!"
Senator Barack Obama appropriated the English version "Yes, we can!" for his presidential campaign following his second place finish in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.
AND: "Si se puede" was also the chant heard in the huge pro-immigration rallies in 2006:
Organizers said their "national day of action for immigration justice" included events in more than 140 cities in at least 39 states, with drum-banging and flag-waving masses chanting "Si se puede" -- "Yes we can" -- in rallies from coast to coast.