As Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Twitter commenced nearly exploding. According to Twitter, as Obama spoke there were 52,757 tweets per minute; Romney had 14,289 tweets per minute. Tweets won’t win the White House, but they reveal that young people are more in-step with the Obama campaign. Secondly, and more importantly, Obama issued the first altar call many of those young people ever heard, though they wouldn’t know it as such.
In fact, Google reports that when Barack Obama’s speech ended at 11:03 p.m., Google searches for “register to vote” doubled nationwide. Arguably, those “searches” could have been by those who wanted to make sure they were registered to vote against Obama. However, given that the Twittersphere was so abuzz with Obama, it’s possible Obama rallied many new voters.
Obama’s altar call didn’t arrive with stanza after stanza of “Just As I Am,” but rather two words: choice and choose. Obama used the word “choose” 10 times. Each time it was associated with “path” or “future,” except one, and that was “leadership.” He was calling for people to make a new start, choose a different future than other options. For the word “choice,” used 10 times too, he made sure that it was defined as an option between his leadership and other leadership, and a choice for America.
There are those that would disagree with me, and say that I am taking quite a liberal interpretation of what Obama was accomplishing. But hear this: Obama asked people to make a choice, and they were presented with options. Obama acted like an old time preacher that lays out the path of good and evil.
Young people have typically responded strongly to Obama, but I think there’s another, deeper reason. In a world where the religious voice has dwindled because it has become watered down by pursuit of political power or fear, Obama revives that religious voice within the American people. It’s not so much that he appeals to people, as he makes appeals for people to act.
The Christian voice helped create a sentiment of action and work within the American experience. Whether the Protestant work ethic or the Great Awakenings, a revivalist spirit has been bred into the American psyche. This isn’t the first, or last, time Obama will rejuvenate this spirit. Americans want to be rallied, made to choose, and challenged. The rhetoric was fiery, and some may have needed an “anxious bench” during Obama’s speech. He made an appeal, an opportunity for change that Romney did not.
In my youth I witnessed many altar calls, and yes, I eventually walked the aisle. Whether we sit on the right or left side of the aisle it’s important to recognize that for the first time in some Americans’ lives they witnessed an altar call. There were no crosses, no Bibles, or arguments over how many were actually new converts. There were only choices: the path of righteousness, and the path of unrighteousness. Times, they be changing—in fact, they already have.