I must say I am honored to be here with Senator Obama tonight. And once again I thank him for inviting me.
I’ve spent 35 years writing about America and its people. About what does it mean to be an American, what is our duty, our responsibility, what are our reasonable expectations when we live in a free society. I really never saw myself as partisan, but more as an advocate for a set of ideas: economic and social justice, America as a positive influence around the world, truth, transparency and integrity in government, the right of every American to have a job, a living wage, to be educated in a decent school, and to a life filled with the dignity of work, promise and the sanctity of home. These are the things that make a life. These are the things that build and define a society. And I think that these are the things that we think of the deepest level when we think about our freedom.
But today those freedoms have been damaged and curtailed by eight years of a thoughtless, reckless and morally adrift administration. So we’re at the crossroads today. And I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance in my music between the American dream and the American reality. And I look around today and for many Americans who are losing their jobs, or their homes or are seeing their retirement funds disappear and don’t have health care, who have been abandoned in our inner cities, the distance between that dream and that reality have grown greater and more painful than ever.
And I believe that Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his own work. And I believe that he understands in his heart the cost of that distance in blood and in suffering in the lives of everyday Americans. And I believe as president, he’ll work to bring that promise back to life, and into the lives of so many of our fellow Americans who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.
Now in my job I travel around the world and I occasionally play to big stadiums or crowds like this, just like Senator Obama does. And I continue to find out that wherever I go, America remains a repository for people’s hopes, their desires. It remains a house of dreams. And a thousand George Bush’s and a thousand Dick Cheney’s will never be able to tear that house down. That’s something that only we can do, and we’re not going to let that happen.
This administration will be leaving office — that’s the good news. The bad new is that they’re going to be dumping in our laps the national tragedies of Katrina, and Iraq, and our financial crisis. Our house of dreams has been abused, it’s been looted, and it’s been left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power, and for influence, for a quick buck. It needs strong arms, strong hearts, strong minds. We need someone with Senator Obama’s understanding, his temperateness, his deliberativeness, his maturity, his pragmatism, his toughness, and his faith. But most of all it needs us — it needs you and it needs me. And he’s gonna need us. Cause all that a nation has that keeps it from coming apart is the social contract between us, between its citizens. And whatever grace God has decided to impart to us, it resides in our connection with one another, and in our life and the hopes and the dreams of the man or the woman up the street or across town — that’s where we make our small claim upon heaven.
Now in recent years that social contract has been shredded. We look around today and we can see it shredding before our eyes. But tonight and today we are at the crossroads. We are at the crossroads, and it’s been a long, long, long time coming.
I’m honored to be here on the same stage as Senator Obama. From the beginning there’s been something in Senator Obama that’s called upon our better angels. And I suspect it’s because he’s had a life, where he’s had so often to call upon his better angels. And we’re going to need all the angels we can get on the hard road ahead. So Senator Obama, help us rebuild our house big enough for the dreams of all our citizens. It’s how well we accomplish this task that’ll tell us just what it does mean to be an American in the new century, what the stakes are and what it means to live in a free society.
So I don’t know about you, but I know I want by country back. I want my dream back. I want my America back! Now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising.
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_Transcribed by Quinn Hungeski from CNN video_.