President Obama declared today Cesar Chavez Day 2012, in honor of a civil rights and union leader, but the memorandum explaining the declaration seemed designed to remind people of Obama's reelection campaign message.
Obama's apparent evocations of himself begin almost immediately. Praising Chavez as "one of the nations great civil rights leaders," Obama says that "Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change -- the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose." Not only does "change" recall Obama's own 2008 campaign slogan, but the line also recalls Obama's experience as a "community organizer."
The president also notes that Chavez was "inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other visionary leaders," a historical note that would have no political overtones except for the fact that Obama has also compared himself to Gandhi and to Dr. King.
The lines of Chavez that Obama chose to quote could have been lifted from one of the president's fundraising speeches. "'We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community,'" Chavez said, per the president. "'Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.'"
Compare that to Obama's criticism that Republicans have a "narrow, cramped vision of America" whereas his campaign offers "a vision of a big, generous, bold America, where we look out for one another," as he put it in November. In another recent fundraiser, he said, "Our politics may be divided, but most Americans understand that we’re in this together. No matter who we are or what we look like, where we come from, what our names are, we rise and fall as one nation and as one people. And that’s what’s at stake right now. That’s what this election is all about."