By the time President Obama walked on stage tonight, his convention had done its job. His three days of artillery had prepared the hill for his advance, blasting every Republican position, the last barrages laid by a frenzied Jennifer Granholm and a pleading Joe Biden. The echoes of Bill Clinton and Julian Castro had faded. The moment was finally his.

The president stepped into the lonely circle that marked the stage with the highest of expectations and hopes from the crowd, and perhaps the flicker of another look from millions of Americans who had written him off. The music of U2 introduced him: “The more you see, the less you know” — an odd musical prelude.

The president’s theme tonight was one I had speculated upon earlier today, but he stated it more eloquently than I ever could. He finally turned the mirror around, the mirror where his image had loomed so large once and seemed to be fading, and pointed it at the American people. Look here, he seemed to say: Behold your strength and character as citizens. Gaze upon the choices presented by this election. Remember who you are and what we owe each other. Find the hope in yourselves.

More even than the president’s important admission of being brought to his knees in humble prayer by the weight of the office, more than his assertion of American power and religious faith, he found his truth tonight by making the election more about us than him.