In the midst of the hoopla over how ‘in touch’ Sarah Palin is supposed to be (all her faux personal touches), I came across this speech by a steelworker at an AFL-CIO convention.
A couple of you might have noticed the image I use in the sidebar:
It’s from Norman Rockwell’s famous series, the Four Freedoms (this one is freedom of speech). I’ll turn the description over to driftglass:
He’s nervous. Really nervous.
By his tan and his hands and his clothes, you can tell he’s a working man. Everyone around him is wearing a tie; his collar is open.
Those are his remarks there in his pocket, which he probably spent a long time writing out, tossing out, and then rewriting.
He probably told his family that tonight he’s gonna go down to the meetin’ and give those Big Guys what ‘fer.
His wife was probably very proud of her man; he can swing an ax or drive a dozer, but he’s never been too good with words. Maybe she helped him with his remarks; maybe he didn’t want his woman to see him struggling with something that he has trouble mastering.
…now he’s there, in his laborer’s clothes, and all his neighbors are looking at him, and his wife and kids and the warm comfort of his home are across town.
He grabs the pew in front of him for dear life; sinks his nails into the wood.
It’s something solid. Something real. He perhaps gains strength from hanging on to something hewn and boned and made straight and true by honest hands. This is something he understands in his skin.
This, and that come what may, he’s a goddamned American Citizen, and has every right in the world to be there, to stand, and to be heard.
When did we forget that?
His remarks – toiled and sweated over as much as anything he’s done at any job site – stay rolled up in his pocket.
He doesn’t need them.
All he has to do is plant his feet, stand straight, tell the truth like he sees it, and speak from his heart.
As someone who has roused a little rabble or two at a town meeting, I appreciate that sentiment. With that, I give you Richard Trumka, steelworker, who calls out The Swing Vote That Shall Not Be Named (by way of Oliver Willis):
And you’ll notice, not a “you betcha” uttered, either.