Barack Obama’s Victory Speech
After the South Carolina Primaries, January 26

Over two weeks ago, we saw the people of Iowa proclaim that our time for change has come. But there were those who doubted this country’s desire for something new – who said Iowa was a fluke not to be repeated again.
Well, tonight, the cynics who believed that what began in the snows of Iowa was just an illusion were told a different story by the good people of South Carolina.
After four great contests in every corner of this country, we have the most votes, the most delegates, and the most diverse coalition of Americans we’ve seen in a long, long time.
They are young and old; rich and poor. They are black and white; Latino and Asian. They are Democrats from Des Moines and Independents from Concord; Republicans from rural Nevada and young people across this country who’ve never had a reason to participate until now. And in nine days, nearly half the nation will have the chance to join us in saying that we are tired of business-as-usual in Washington, we are hungry for change, and we are ready to believe again
But if there’s anything we’ve been reminded of since Iowa, it’s that the kind of change we seek will not come easy. Partly because we have fine candidates in the field – fierce competitors, worthy of respect. And as contentious as this campaign may get, we have to remember that this is a contest for the Democratic nomination, and that all of us share an abiding desire to end the disastrous policies of the current administration.
But there are real differences between the candidates. We are looking for more than just a change of party in the White House. We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington – a status quo that extends beyond any particular party. And right now, that status quo is fighting back with everything it’s got; with the same old tactics that divide and distract us from solving the problems people face, whether those problems are health care they can’t afford or a mortgage they cannot pay.
So this will not be easy. Make no mistake about what we’re up against.
We are up against the belief that it’s ok for lobbyists to dominate our government – that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we’re not going to let them stand in our way anymore.
We are up against the conventional thinking that says your ability to lead as President comes from longevity in Washington or proximity to the White House. But we know that real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose – a higher purpose.
We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together to make college affordable or energy cleaner; it’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea – even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country, and this is our chance to end it once and for all.
We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again.
And what we’ve seen in these last weeks is that we’re also up against forces that are not the fault of any one campaign, but feed the habits that prevent us from being who we want to be as a nation. It’s the politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon. A politics that tells us that we have to think, act, and even vote within the confines of the categories that supposedly define us. The assumption that young people are apathetic. The assumption that Republicans won’t cross over. The assumption that the wealthy care nothing for the poor, and that the poor don’t vote. The assumption that African-Americans can’t support the white candidate; whites can’t support the African-American candidate; blacks and Latinos can’t come together.
But we are here tonight to say that this is not the America we believe in. I did not travel around this state over the last year and see a white South Carolina or a black South Carolina. I saw South Carolina. I saw crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children. I saw shuttered mills and homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from all walks of life, and men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. I saw what America is, and I believe in what this country can be.
That is the country I see. That is the country you see. But now it is up to us to help the entire nation embrace this vision. Because in the end, we are not just up against the ingrained and destructive habits of Washington, we are also struggling against our own doubts, our own fears, and our own cynicism. The change we seek has always required great struggle and sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.
So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. That change will take time. There will be setbacks, and false starts, and sometimes we will make mistakes. But as hard as it may seem, we cannot lose hope. Because there are people all across this country who are counting us; who can’t afford another four years without health care or good schools or decent wages because our leaders couldn’t come together and get it done.
Theirs are the stories and voices we carry on from South Carolina.
The mother who can’t get Medicaid to cover all the needs of her sick child – she needs us to pass a health care plan that cuts costs and makes health care available and affordable for every single American.
The teacher who works another shift at Dunkin Donuts after school just to make ends meet – she needs us to reform our education system so that she gets better pay, and more support, and her students get the resources they need to achieve their dreams.
The Maytag worker who is now competing with his own teenager for a $7-an-hour job at Wal-Mart because the factory he gave his life to shut its doors – he needs us to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas and start putting them in the pockets of working Americans who deserve it. And struggling homeowners. And seniors who should retire with dignity and respect.
The woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since the day her nephew left for Iraq, or the soldier who doesn’t know his child because he’s on his third or fourth tour of duty – they need us to come together and put an end to a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.
The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.
It’s about the past versus the future.
It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.
There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.
But here’s what I know. I know that when people say we can’t overcome all the big money and influence in Washington, I think of the elderly woman who sent me a contribution the other day – an envelope that had a money order for $3.01 along with a verse of scripture tucked inside. So don’t tell us change isn’t possible.
When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.
When I hear that we’ll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who’s now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don’t tell me we can’t change.
Yes we can change.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can seize our future.
And as we leave this state with a new wind at our backs, and take this journey across the country we love with the message we’ve carried from the plains of Iowa to the hills of New Hampshire; from the Nevada desert to the South Carolina coast; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope; and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people in three simple words:
Yes. We. Can.

Excerpt from an Interview with Benazir Bhutto
October 27, 2000
London, England

As a woman, as a politician, as a leader, how much room is there for idealism in political leadership and achieving your goals?

Benazir Bhutto: For me idealism has been the motivation. I think power for itself is useless. If it was just power, how could one -- politics is an obsession. You cannot just be in politics -- or if you really want something -- it is not an eight to five job. It's an around the clock job. So if it was just power I think it would be very empty. I think idealism is very important. The need to change, to bring about change. I feel that life is like -- or society is like -- a canvas, and that if we get office you are given an opportunity to paint it. And it is up to you whether you make a good picture or whether you make a bad picture. I think it is very, very important to have ideals, because when one has ideals one thinks the suffering is worth it. And for me the suffering has been worth it because I think I could change things, and I am still idealistic and I am still optimistic. And people tell me, "Why are you still idealistic and optimistic?" And I say, "Because there could be ten people who are bad, but there are 90 people who are good."
You do have to be practical, so there are times when you make compromises, not because you want to, but that's how the political mathematics plays out. There have been times when we have been forced into coalitions and we've been unable to do the things we want to do because of other coalition powers. It's a balancing. It's a game of mathematics. How much are you gaining? How much can you do, and how much are you losing? You put those down and you look at it and you say, "Well okay, the gains are so much; if this is the price that has to be paid, let's pay it."

Do you ever stop and think back on how you might have handled things differently in your career, in your life?

Benazir Bhutto: Very much so. When I look back on my life, I think of the different stages when we were so raw and naive, before we realized how things work. I think back to the time when my father was in prison. There were hard liners, they rejected compromise. There was a lot of pressure on the military dictator, but we just weren't ready to compromise. I think now I would look at it differently.

I think back to my first tenure as prime minister, and I didn't get on with the president because he wanted to have a kind of presidential system and I believed in the parliamentary system. Then I remember a later president who was from my own party. I think of the amount of power I gave him, and he treated me so shabbily. If I had given the first president half the powers that I gave my own president, maybe he would not have knocked us out, and democracy could have taken stronger root.

I look back also to little things. There used to be a South Asian Association Regional Conference, and I was supposed to go to New Delhi and I didn't go because somebody told me, "Oh, let the president go. He's from the Punjab and if he makes an agreement it will be more acceptable." Now I realize that maybe he was unable to do it because he came from a more militaristic background than I did.
Little things or big things, you look back and you say, "I wish I had done that a different way." Much more critical to my own life was my failure to understand the world is moving towards transparency. I had lived through this era of military dictatorship when the press would write all sorts of things and it would be water off the duck's back. When there were these demands, I did make an information act, but didn't follow it through, so I wish I had given more freedom of information.

I wish I had tackled the so-called corruption issues more deeply. It was a precedent. We all knew kickbacks must be taken. Not personally but on the level that, "These things happen." It wasn't like, "We are here to change it." It was like, "This is how business is done." In retrospect, I think that I would have done many, many, many things differently.
But you learn from your own experiences. How do you succeed? By making right decisions. But how do you come to the right decisions? Through experience. =And how do you get experience? Through wrong decisions. In retrospect, one is older and wiser.

But you simply have to keep going?

Benazir Bhutto: You have to keep going and keep in touch with people. Power is such a strange phenomenon that one gets isolated from the real world. People can't see you. They can't phone you. They have to go through the operator, and it's up to the operator who he puts through. They can't write you, because the secretary is going to read the letters and decide which ones are going to come to you And in countries like mine, where there has been less democracy for so many decades, and people are less literate, or very few have been educated overseas, the ability to decide what is important for the other person is missing, and it's more an ability of who they want to please. This is quite frustrating for me because I have had exposure to the other world and I understand that it has to be done differently.

So really one becomes a prisoner. I used to meet my party people, I used to meet poor people in the villages, and they were all very happy because we were doing poverty alleviation and so on. But people in the urban middle classes were very unhappy, and I realize now that I should have been out more meeting people who worked with us, or meeting people who were the representatives of organized groups.

The other thing I learned, in the past when I used to meet people I used to want to tell them what we were doing. Now I realize that you have to listen to people and what they are saying we ought to be doing, because that's the feedback. I heard the Prime Minister of Ireland say, "Even if you have an idea, let the other person think it's their idea," and he was so right.

Each time one is in trouble or hits rock bottom, it's a time for reflection. I think being able to climb back depends very much on the ability to reflect and see how the world has changed, because it's going to go on changing.

If a young person came to you who wanted to live a life of activism, a political life, what would your advice be to them?
Benazir Bhutto: I'd tell them, "If you believe in something, go for it, but know that when you go for it there's a price to be paid. Be ready to pay that price and you can contribute to the welfare of society, and society will acknowledge you and respect you for it. And don't be afraid. Don't be afraid."

December 27, 2007, 5:17 pm

Benazir Bhutto and the Politics of Chaos

By Patrick J. Lyons
Tags: Elections, history, pakistan, politics, terrorism, the new york times, violence
The question has been raised by many, and all the more ruefully after her assassination: Given how unstable her country was and how dangerous it would be for her, why did Benazir Bhutto return to public opposition politics in Pakistan?
Steven R. Weisman, who covers international economics for The New York Times, was the paper’s New Delhi bureau chief in the mid-1980s, and covered Ms. Bhutto’s return to the country and to prominence in the tumult and violence of 1986. He put some thoughts about what she was thinking then, and now, into a memo shared with The Lede:
“Benazir not only understood that Pakistan was a chaotic country, she often seemed almost to court chaos as an ally,” Mr. Weisman writes. “I believe that, in effect, was her strategy in her current return.”
He says he asked one of Ms. Bhutto’s close political associates whether he thought that was so. “He seemed to agree: That in returning to her native soil, she was in effect hoping that the people would rise up to support her, there would be violence, and the army would step in and remove President Musharraf for her and bring her into power, perhaps in tandem with another general.
“Of course she supported elections, but she knew that this route would propel her ahead.”
Mr. Weisman remembers a conversation he had with Ms. Bhutto in 1986, when she was in her early thirties and a political phenomenon without precedent in the Muslim world:
She pulled me aside at a dinner party and explained, off the record, that she well remembered the chaotic election of 1977 called by her father. He ‘won’ in a landslide, but virtually every political group took to the streets, fomented chaos and forced the army to act, remove Bhutto and take over. Benazir told me that her strategy then [in 1986] was to bring people into the streets and divide Zia from the army.
“It’s a risk,” she told me. “But it’s the only route we can take. The government will never let us into power any other way.”
Mr. Weisman says he worked that notion into a Times Magazine article he was writing about her, but did not quote her directly on the subject.
He goes on to locate Ms. Bhutto in the political dynamics of the country:
What did she represent? There have traditionally been three major power bases in Pakistan: the army, the clergy and the feudal aristocracy. They make shifting alliances with each other. Benazir “is feudal to the core,” a friend of hers once told me. She was a brilliant debater as president of the Oxford Union, and wore blue jeans, drove a sports car and enjoyed parties, and she was devoted to her father without that much of an ideological set of beliefs. She knew her father was a man who trusted no one, especially the army. They often talked about it.
Benazir’s history is one of three returns. In 1977, she returned from Oxford and within days, he was ousted. She spent the next two years petitioning for his life to be saved and discovering that so many allies were ducking for cover. “These were the bitter, bitter experiences … ” she told me, her voice trailing off. “All those ministers who betrayed us, the people who made hay while the sun was shining. I decided I didn’t want such men around me – ever.”
But of course that is the nature of politics in Pakistan, to have such people around you.
Ms. Bhutto was jailed herself, two years after her father was hanged, after a hijacking linked to her two younger brothers. “She spent some of 1981 in solitary confinement in a prison in Sind,” Mr. Weisman notes. “It left her emaciated, sick from headaches and fainting spells.”
After her release, she left the country for two years to recuperate, returning in the turbulence of 1986 to oppose the man who overthrew her father, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq: “She turned out hundreds of thousands of people in Lahore to greet her, the biggest rally probably in the history of the country.”
The third return was this year, and it too was accompanied by chaos, Mr. Weisman notes, and by a “willful denial of reality” that Ms. Bhutto has shown before. After another Times correspondent, John F. Burns, wrote about corruption scandals and other misadventures swirling around Ms. Bhutto and her husband, Mr. Weisman, then in New York, asked her why she allowed her husband to go into politics after vowing that he would never do so:
She said she made that vow when she got married because he thought she would never enter public life once they got married and started raising family.
“Benazir, you had a hundred thousand people at your wedding! How could he not have realized you were going to enter politics?” I asked her.
“Oh, you know men,” she replied.
Mr. Weisman says Ms. Bhutto also used to deny knowing anything about Pakistan’s support of the fundamentalist Taliban group in Afghanistan while she was prime minister, or its plans to make a nuclear weapon. “She could be steely in denying the obvious,” he writes.

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli CHAPTER XVIII

Concerning The Way In Which Princes Should Keep Faith

EVERY one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man.
This has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a prince to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other is not durable. A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves.
Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they are about. Therefore a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good this precept would not hold, but because they are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them. Nor will there ever be wanting to a prince legitimate reasons to excuse this nonobservance. Of this endless modern examples could be given, showing how many treaties and engagements have been made void and of no effect through the faithlessness of princes; and he who has known best how to employ the fox has succeeded best.
But it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in silence. Alexander VI did nothing else but deceive men, nor ever thought of doing otherwise, and he always found victims; for there never was a man who had greater power in asserting, or who with greater oaths would affirm a thing, yet would observe it less; nevertheless his deceits always succeeded according to his wishes, because he well understood this side of mankind.
Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
And you have to understand this, that a prince, especially a new one, cannot observe all those things for which men are esteemed, being often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith, friendship, humanity, and religion. Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to set about it.
For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above-named five qualities, that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful, faithful, humane, upright, and religious. There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality, inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, because it belongs to everybody to see you, to few to come in touch with you. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.
For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.
One prince of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of reputation and kingdom many a time.