An old man walks to a podium in a silent room. There are no crowds. There is no applause. The nation he loves has been reduced to this: lonely and distant, sickened, cut off from its allies and friends. He can speak to his countrymen only through the camera lens, and so he begins, fighting the feeling that he is speaking only to himself.
Imagine the fear. The vertigo. The disorientation of a 77-year-old who has spent his life in front of cheering crowds, forced now to speak to an empty chamber.
Yet he does it.
He rises to the moment, because he must.
Is he the right person? Did the voters who chose him make the right decision? The questions are academic now, consigned to the judgment of history. He is the nominee. There is no going back.
He speaks in this alien room, this macabre reflection of the country he loves. He addresses a nation that is nearly unrecognizable to itself, bleeding and burning and alone. And he extends compassion.
He extends empathy.
He extends hope.
He delivers them like he has found us in the desert, and we receive them as if he is dripping water into our parched mouths. As if we have forgotten the taste of moisture and sustenance. We lap them up and feel our strength slowly recover, our muscles slowly loosen. And when we are able, at last, to stand again, he reminds us that we are Americans.
And what that means.
He reminds us that we have beaten this particular enemy before. That we are a nation of immigrants, of diversity – that it is not our weakness, but our strength. He reminds us – this old man, this stuttering, feeble creature – how to stand in defiance.
He is weak and old, just like his country – yet the fire still burns. His love for his nation, for the dreams of its highest ideals. You can hear it in every word, see it in his eyes.
He is not done. Despite his age, despite his weakness, he will not quit the fight. Will not end his defiance. Will not simply allow the nation he loves to slip into oblivion.
And as our will floods back into us, as we realize with crushing relief that this man is equal to the challenge, we realize:
Neither will we.