This night, as they tucked their 11-year-old into bed and wrapped him round with covers, they took his phone from his hands and put it by his bedside. He'd fallen asleep texting. And suddenly, through the eyes of another generation, they saw beyond the horizon to another time and place.
The child of today's iPhone's and apps will be a man of another era. Tonight, for the first time, they see it. A new economy, a new world, is building itself around them. They sense this is a time of great hope and opportunity for America, a moment of unparalleled promise and possibility. So they wonder, despite their optimism, why do they feel chained to the present, as if pulling an immense and unidentifiable weight?
Why aren't they getting ahead?
They don't know they spend more for government than for food, clothing and shelter combined -- or they'd march from their grocery to the White House. They don't know they will spend an average of 26,000 hours of their working lives laboring just to pay taxes -- or they'd call it slavery. They don't know government will take 3½ months of what they earn this year, as surely as if it had broken into their home and stripped them of their possessions.
But this they do know: They want to move ahead.
They don't believe Washington can be their doctor, find them a job or lower their gas bill. They have lost faith in those old promises. Like most Americans facing the future, they are anxious and, at times, frightened. But others, no better than they, built the greatest nation on earth in the face of bigger obstacles.
And they are willing to stumble, pick themselves up and try again for something better, if their government will stop growing its economy at the expense of their economy. They don't know why their leaders don't believe in them, summon their courage and confidence, and call on them to do great things.
It is for those Americans that I hope Obama finds his way forward from our antiquated, factory-like public sector.
For somewhere beyond this difficult moment lies a wonderland. Somewhere around ordinary kitchen tables lie real miracles. And somewhere in a country uncertain of its future, but free to create it, lies a remarkable new era of progress, prosperity and real change.
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