The speech bearing the name "A More Perfect Union" (a quote from the Preamble to the United States Constitution) was delivered by Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for the presidency. It took place in the Constitution Center (Philadelphia) on 18 March 2008. The speech was partly a reaction to public outrage following some controversial remarks, above all, the accusation that America is a racist and hateful country, by Reverend Jeremiah Wright (Obama`s former pastor). The other part of the speech was meant to sharpen and emphasize the general themes of the Obama Presidential campaign.
Obama began by explaining his personal views on American history, from the Declaration of Independence to the present. He wishes to see the American narrative as a road to perfection, a path to create a more equal, just and prosperous country. And just as the shortcomings of the Declaration of Independence, like the slavery problem, were overcome by efforts of future generations, as were the Civil War and the battle of Civil Disobedience (a term that was funded by H. D. Thoreau), the shortcomings of the present shouldn`t be neglected. The key to solve these problems can only be found in the unity of American society, which as different as it is, shares the same foundation and hopes according to Obama.
That belief is partly based on Obama`s personal story. He is the child of a mixed marriage, and being married to a black woman all of which hasn’t prevented him from being successful and running for the presidency. That, Obama claims, wouldn`t be possible in any other country besides America and is an example of what American culture is truly like.
But among those inspiring values there are disruptive forces, which hope to emphasize and to enlarge the differences in society. Throughout the campaign some Obama opponents worked on highlighting the race issue as the essence of Obama’s candidacy. A short time before his speech they went even further and said that Obama`s candidacy is a part of liberals’ cheap effort to increase their influence within the weak socio-economic groups.
In this context, Reverend Wright’s remarks sounded even harsher than they were. The objective was to hurt Obamas platform – the call for unity. Therefore Obama has strongly condemned his former pastor’s statements as being divisive and bizarre. But the question as to why Obama tied his faith to this man still remains, and Obama has tried to face up to it. If these fits of rage were all Obama knew of Wright he would never have thought of collaborating with him, but it was only one part of the equation.
The other part was an intelligent, educated, charismatic man who for more then thirty years led a church that served the community. The controversy found in his appearance, is a mixture of an appealing motives calling for better future and sometimes, inescapable ways of getting there.
Those thoughts are not in any way to justify Wright`s comments, says Obama, but an attempt to bring America to a crucial point when it must understand the roots of the race as an issue. “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact it isn’t even past”, he quotes William Faulkner’s phrase, meaning that years of discrimination are still having their impact on the black community. For people, who by law couldn’t satisfy their basic needs, the hate still exists – if not by means than by history.
Therefore Raverend Wright didn`t make a mistake when he spoke about race issue, his mistake was that he held the presupposition that the culture, the society can’t develop. The key for better future is in our hands, repeats Obama. The American society must set public goals and to solve public problems, rather to divide itself to sub-societies. That should be done by mutual understanding; the white community has to understand that the pain of the black community is real and alive, while the African-American community has to stop fighting with ghosts of the past and start building the future right now. If this call for unity will be acknowledged, nothing can prevent America’s progress.
Knowing that this change is possible and that is what the majority of Americans really want, that is what motivates Obama to run for presidency.