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Whether by coincidence or by design, she has brightened her message recently, talking less about what's wrong than about what's possible. "We live in isolation sometimes, but the truth is that people want the same thing. They're tired of the divisions, they want peace, they want fairness, they want equity," she told a group of phone-bank volunteers on May 19 in Louisville, Ky. "They're willing to sacrifice. They're willing to put things that are valuable to them on the table for the greater good."
It's a cliché of American politics that even in hard times--or maybe especially then--people always vote for the optimist. This does not mean we wish our problems away; only that in good times or bad, we want to think we face obstacles with ingenuity and grit. Maybe Michelle Obama is telling hard truths. Or maybe her truths are not as widely shared as she suggests. Barack Obama's "Yes, We Can" stump speech is wrapped around American decency and imagination. Her story has heroes too, but she doesn't bother to keep the stragglers in the closet. Her voice in this race is one more reminder of the new road we are traveling. The 2008 campaign is its own frontier: a race in which candidates on both sides talk about the need to come together as a country, even as their life experiences speak to the depth of the differences between us.