So as i was saying... Barack Obama was at UMCP on Monday afternoon. I considered taking the girls out of school and taking them with me, but given the cold weather and anticipated lines, I figured it would just serve to make them cranky. The doors opened at the Comcast Center at 10:30 a.m., of course, I left the house at about -- 10:30 a.m. figuring maybe i will, maybe I won't get in. I got there, parked, and got in a line of about 10 people - then I looked over to the right and saw this loooonng line caming from the other side of the building, going past the parking garage and wandered if I was in the right line? I stood there about 10 minutes, went thru security and into the arena and found a pretty good seat. I cursed for not bringing my camera - I wasn't sure what security would be like and didn't bring it - should have! (but thanks to modern technology, I've been able to find some good photos on Flickr.) The place filled up over the next hour and a half as the DJ played hip hop and r&b (yes, a real DJ with turntables and everything!) I looked around at the diverse crowd Obama attracted - the older White arts professor and young Black professors next to me, the group of white students in front of me, and the older Black ladies behind me. I heard snippets of "this is the first time I've been to a political rally", "this is the first time I've made a political donation", "I'm tired of the Clinton rhetoric". We all seemed to be echoing the same thing --- what was it about this guy that energized everyone so?
Finally, the folks came on stage to make their intros. There was a young, Black student who made the first welcome and intro, I forgot his name, but noticed he wasn't mentioned in the paper and I thought they said he was the Chapter Pres/coordinator of Students for Obama or something, but they did mention the other student, anyway... There was the guy who plays Slim in The Wire; Doug Gansler, State's Attorney; and the other student president of something, maybe College Dems. Then - as if we were at a rock concert or something, everyone's chanting "Obama" and he finally makes his appearance from the corner - you can see all the Secret Service everywhere - the suited guys who don't smile and don't blink.
He smiles, shakes hands, kisses a baby and takes the stage. And he is just as poised and commanding a figure as when you see him on TV. He talks about many of the points we are already familiar with about his plan to improve our country, he talks about having HOPE, that there's nothing wrong with it, that's what this country was built on, despite that his opponents are trying to take shots at his idea of having hope (though I noticed that McCain is now also talking about having hope, trying to jump on that bandwagon). He talks for about 45 minutes, its almost surreal as I think - he's got to win, how can he not? I'm sitting here, watching the next President of the United States. And my mind continues to wander thinking, he's got to wish his mother and father were still alive to see his moment in history. And how do you raise a son to be strong and confident enough to run for this job? As he continues, I'm lulled by his speech and energized by his smile. He talks about his environmental plan and I think about how many smart people a President has to surround himself with to figure out how to solve so many problems - the environment, the economy, education, taxes, health care. It seems that a good leader can admit what he doesn't know and find the experts who do. He wraps up his speech, thanks us for coming, and in a loud cheering and clapping storm, runs down the steps and back out of the arena.... off to Baltimore to do the same thing again.
I left from there and went to my assigned volunteer station, picked up my door-tags, map, and instructions. I had a list of 100 houses and my assignment was to hang one of the tags on the doors of those houses to remind people to vote tomorrow. Easy. How long could this take? About 3 hours, I was warned. What? Got to be kidding! I took my pile, found the beginning of my route, pulled on my fingerless mitts (which I made myself and was glad to find a use for them), and started walking and hanging... and walking and hanging... and driving to the next neighborhood and walking and hanging.... and wandering again, what is it about this guy who would have me - me of all people, me of totally no political interest! - out here in the cold, hanging door signs? Its the HOPE of something better, the HOPE that schools will be better and teachers will be better trained and compensated, the HOPE that children will have better health care access, the HOPE that he will end this war and my military friends don't have to worry that they will be sent to a battlefield. And its the HOPE that in my lifetime, in my father's lifetime, in my children's lifetime, we will see a President that looks like us. That children of all colors and races will be able to dream that they can be anything they want to be, even President of the United States, and see someone who has actually done it. So I kept walking and hanging... and 2 1/2 hours later, I finished my list, turned in my papers, and went home.
Yesterday was the Maryland, DC, and Virginia Primaries - and Obama won all three!!