I spent this morning avoiding the profound amount of work I have waiting for me on my desk and attended a rally in downtown Milwaukee for Barack Obama. While this post couldn't compare to the effusive, moving and well-put commentary offered by my friend Erika on her blog a couple of days ago (read it here), I will attempt to put into words what being a part of this moment and movement mean to me:
A fellow from a local talk-radio station known for being a bit right of center walked along the line of people waiting to get in and asked a guy a few feet in front of me, "why Barack Obama? Why are you here today?"
Though I don't know how he answered the question, it got me thinking about how I would have answered it. When Obama took the stage and began speaking, I understood that even though I've supported his candidacy and campaign for some time now, his present momentum makes the possibilities that his presidency would offer all the more real. He made reference to the phrase Dr. King used in the 60s that has become a mantra for this campaign: "the fierce urgency of now." It rings true when you're standing among 6000 people for whom this man represents not only the best choice to lead our nation, but the best choice to bring about a better quality of life.
Many of Obama's critics, including Senator Clinton, claim that all the rhetoric about change is just hot air. He addressed this criticism directly today, saying that he agreed that articulate speeches and invocations of hope don't bring about change and progress on their own; action does. But without hope, without the belief that a better future is around the corner, without the conviction that it takes to make tough decisions, without the desire to undo the damage that has been done by an arrogant administration, we can't get to where we need to be.
Though I came to see him speak and to be able to tell my kids and grandkids that I was there to see the man who made history, I found myself looking around at the expressions on the faces of those who feel as I do. I wish I would have photographed them instead of him. I know what he looks like and will be seeing a lot more of him to come. It was in their faces that I saw the excitement, the anticipation and the hope (yeah, I said it) that will propel him to the presidency.
I think this sentiment was best exemplified in the sartorial choice du jour of six young women who ended up sitting just below the banner that hung behind the stage. Each one of them wore a different colored shirt with a letter on it. Standing together, their shirts said more about Barack Obama and the hope of a nation that any blog ever could:
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