Below is a condensed version of Senator Barack Obama’s remarks for the voters of
Ten months ago, I stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol in
Springfield, Illinois, and began an unlikely journey to change . America
I did not run for the presidency to fulfill some long-held ambition or because I believed it was somehow owed to me. I chose to run in this election - at this moment - because of what Dr. King called "the fierce urgency of now." Because we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. Our health care system is broken, our economy is out of balance, our education system fails too many of our children, and our retirement system is in tatters.
At this defining moment, we cannot wait any longer for universal health care. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait for good jobs, and living wages, and pensions we can count on. We cannot wait to halt global warming, and we cannot wait to end this war in
I chose to run because I believed that the size of these challenges had outgrown the capacity of our broken and divided politics to solve them; because I believed that Americans of every political stripe were hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that focused not just on how to win but why we should, a politics that focused on those values and ideals that we held in common as Americans; a politics that favored common sense over ideology, straight talk over spin.
Most of all, I believed in the power of the American people to be the real agents of change in this country - because we are not as divided as our politics suggests; because we are a decent, generous people willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations; and I was certain that if we could just mobilize our voices to challenge the special interests that dominate Washington and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there was no problem we couldn't solve - no destiny we couldn't fulfill.
You know that we can't afford four more years of the same divisive food fight in
that's about scoring political points instead of solving problems; that's about tearing your opponents down instead of lifting this country up. Washington
We can't afford the same politics of fear that tells Democrats that the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, act, and vote like George Bush Republicans; that invokes 9/11 as a way to scare up votes instead of a challenge that should unite all Americans to defeat our real enemies.
We can't afford to be so worried about losing the next election that we lose the battles we owe to the next generation.
The real gamble in this election is playing the same
Washingtongame with the same players and expecting a different result. And that's a risk we can't take. Not this year. Not when the stakes are this high. Washington
In this election, it is time to turn the page. In seven days, it is time to stand for change.
For the first time in a long time, we have the chance to build a new majority of not just Democrats, but Independents and Republicans who've lost faith in their
leaders but want to believe again - who desperately want something new. Washington
We can change the electoral math that's been all about division and make it about addition - about building a coalition for change and progress that stretches through
Blue Statesand . That's how I won some of the reddest, most Republican counties in Red States . That's why the polls show that I do best against the Republicans running for President - because we're attracting more support from Independents and Republicans than any other candidate. That's how we'll win in November and that's how we'll change this country over the next four years. Illinois
In the end, the argument we are having between the candidates in the last seven days is not just about the meaning of change. It's about the meaning of hope. Some of my opponents appear scornful of the word; they think it speaks of naivete, passivity, and wishful thinking.
But that's not what hope is. Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task before us or the roadblocks that stand in our path. Yes, the lobbyists will fight us. Yes, the Republican attack dogs will go after us in the general election. Yes, the problems of poverty and climate change and failing schools will resist easy repair. I know - I've been on the streets, I've been in the courts. I've watched legislation die because the powerful held sway and good intentions weren't fortified by political will, and I've watched a nation get mislead into war because no one had the judgment or the courage to ask the hard questions before we sent our troops to fight.
But I also know this. I know that hope has been the guiding force behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made. In the face of tyranny, it's what led a band of colonists to rise up against an Empire. In the face of slavery, it's what fueled the resistance of the slave and the abolitionist, and what allowed a President to chart a treacherous course to ensure that the nation would not continue half slave and half free. In the face of war and Depression, it's what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. In the face of oppression, it's what led young men and women to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through the streets of
Selmaand for freedom's cause. That's the power of hope - to imagine, and then work for, what had seemed impossible before. Montgomery
That's the change we seek. And that's the change you can stand for in seven days.
… I know that when the American people believe in something, it happens.
If you believe, then we can tell the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in
are over. Washington
If you believe, then we can stop making promises to America's workers and start delivering - jobs that pay, health care that's affordable, pensions you can count on, and a tax cut for working Americans instead of the companies who send their jobs overseas .
If you believe, we can offer a world-class education to every child, and pay our teachers more, and make college dreams a reality for every American.
If you believe, we can save this planet and end our dependence on foreign oil.
If you believe, we can end this war, close
Guantanamo, restore our standing, renew our diplomacy, and once again respect the Constitution of the . United States of America
That's the future within our reach. That's what hope is - that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us around the corner. But only if we're willing to work for it and fight for it. To shed our fears and our doubts and our cynicism. To glory in the task before us of remaking this country block by block, precinct by precinct, county by county, state by state.
There is a moment in the life of every generation when, if we are to make our mark on history, this spirit must break through
This is the moment.
This is our time.
And if you will stand with me in seven days - if you will stand for change so that our children have the same chance that somebody gave us; if you'll stand to keep the American dream alive for those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for justice; if you're ready to stop settling for what the cynics tell you you must accept, and finally reach for what you know is possible, then we will win this caucus, we will win this election, we will change the course of history, and the real journey - to heal a nation and repair the world - will have truly begun.