This is a speech made by Barack Obama in February 2008 during the primaries campaign.
[Primaries are elections organised in each state by each party from January till June of the year of a presidential election to elect the official candidate of the party at the presidential election. In fact electors who are party members (closed primaries) or any elector (openprimaries) or meetings of the local party activists (caucus) select delegates to the National Convention of the party, who will vote for the candidate to the nomination of the party. The Democratic Convention and the Republican Convention are held at the end of the summer, and then the official campaign begins. The vote takes place on the first Thursday of November and the President-Elect is inauguratedon the 20th of January]
So, Obama’s opponent at the time of the speech was Hillary Clinton and they were the last two competitors in the Democratic race for the nomination. Hillary Clinton’s campaign team unearthed the story of Pastor Jeremiah Wright to try and derail Obama’s campaign. Reverent Wright was the Pastor of the (black) United Trinity Church in Chicago’s South Side which the Obamafamily attended, and he had made violent sermons attacking America on racial grounds. So Clinton’s team tried to bring the campaign on racial grounds to show that Obama would be the president only of African-Americans and to discourage white American from voting for him. This is Obama’s reply to this campaign of smear, to this mudslinging.
1. (l1-26) America’s ideal and its shortcomings
The firstwords of his speech are the first words of the preamble of the Constitution of the U.S. So, he clearly sets his political struggle in the steps of the Founding Fathers and on the ground of the American ideal they represented.
Symbolically, he made this speech in Philadelphia which is the birthplace of the United States as it was there that the Continental Congress which voted the declaration ofindependence in 1776, and the Constitutional Convention which drafted the Constitution of the United States in 1787 convened.
They had met “in a hall that still stands across the street”, in Independence Hall, on top of which the Liberty Bell can still be seen. “A group of men who gathered there” were the drafters of the Constitution, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton (the drafters of theDeclaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were away in Europe) and delegates from the thirteen newly independent states who signed the constitution.
a) The American idealism
The aim of the constitution that Obama takes for himself was “to form a more perfect union”, and the ideals were “embedded with our constitution”, enshrined in the constitution. It is an“ideal of equal citizenship under the law”, all citizens are equal, so all law-abiding citizens benefit equally from the protection of the law, they cannot be arrested unless they have breached/ broken the law, they have no fear of being arrested for what they said or what they did unless they have committed an offence. Theoretically, whatever they differences of birth, race or creed, all citizensbenefit from the rule of law, everyone, including the government or the president must comply with the law. It promised its people “liberty, justice and a union...”, the basic freedoms of American citizens defined in the first amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of association, of the press, of religion, and an independent judicial system which rules by the law and which guarantees trial by jury andthe” Habeas Corpus”, under which no citizen can be detained without a legal reason. These ideas were revolutionary at the time, a couple of years before the French revolution, when the King of France could send anyone who displeased him to the Bastille with a simple ‘lettre de cachet’.
b) Its shortcomings
But the main failure of the Constitution of 1787 was slavery, “it was stained by its...