I went to my first ever Presidential Rally yesterday. What drove me there was a need to finally feel as though I had a part in deciding my future and subsequently making it better. You don't have to tell me, I know that it's all relative and that everyone in their own way is looking for the same thing, and that every point in this column has a counterpoint. I wasn't really born last week (even though my lush youthfulness gives you pause) but lucky for me this here is my little platform, with all the pretty green buttons and the buttery background, so I get to make up the rules. Fair, shmair.
What I guess I was really seeking at the rally was an answer to some of my burning question, the foremost being: "Excuse me, but do you think we can get someone in here who can finally help us, please?" and "Is it possible to help those sick people over there? And could we maybe just get those kids over there in pre-school? And those college students right there, the ones begging for loose change, can we please get them out of debt? You know, they are our future."
I went to the rally not 100% convinced that Obama could handle the job. Sure I love what he stands for, I love hearing him defend his ideals, but can he really pull off this running the nation thing? Is he qualified enough? The Bill & Hill tag-team is awfully enticing, lots of experience, lots of qualifications, lots of knowledge. That's a tough combo to go up against. [Note to Republicans: Although this column is geared toward Liberalism, I promise I will do my best to make it entertaining and non-threatening, and because I know how much you love Hillary, I promise not to dwell on her over-much.]
So I received a lovely invitation to attend this rally, which I may have missed if it hadn't been brought to my immediate attention. My neighbor and I headed downtown at the appointed time and found ourselves standing in line for 2 hours (luckily we picked the skyway and not the street) and then sat in the Target Center for another 2 hours while we waited for the other 19,000 people to sit down. The lines wrapped around multiple city blocks and over long bridges. It was insane and looked really cold. Everyone was pleasant and chatty and non-pulsed by the lengthy waits, which was nice. The energy once we got into the Target Center was crackling and could only be rivaled by the energy my kids conduct on Christmas Morning, right before they hit the stairs.
The buzz and anticipation in the arena was a powerful current, which finally ended up manifesting itself in the form of the wave. Yes, the wave. We did the wave for Barack Obama. It was an awesome spectacle of 20,000 hands flying up in the air and bodies arching, and it brought to mind the very tidal wave of change coming to rip up politics as we know it - that or maybe it was just filling the gap with boredom - but I'm going with Tidal Wave of Change.
When he finally came on stage, it was so damn well worth the wait I couldn't even believe it. Obama knocked my socks off. Literally they were laying on the floor of the Target center, my shoes somewhere in the stands beside them. This man is phenomenal. He addressed every issue I had with a decisive confidence that laid to rest my fears, because by the end if his speech I believed that if this man couldn't do the job or struggled with the basic runnings of Government or somehow couldn't get some of it done, it was not for his lack of trying.
At the end of his 54 minute speech I truly believed that this man was committed to doing the best job that he possibly could in office. That he is willing to try his very best every single day to make needed changes in the government and help the hard working people. That even if it's impossible to do everything, he'll try his damndest. After he was finished speaking I was certain he was the smartest guy in the room.
And can we really ask for more than that?
We know it's going to be tough and that he'll have resistance at every corner. We're not dumb enough to believe that he'll breeze into the White House and lay down change like Harry Potter with his wand drawn. (But wouldn't that be cool if he could? I'm just saying.) But we know that won't happen. Liberals, contrary to popular belief, don't clog around in their Birkenstocks in a fog of idealistic dreams toting along zany ideas for a implementing a perfect utopia. We simply just want someone to try their best to make it better for everyone, and we are wide awake the whole time, usually clad in common footwear like New Balance or Columbia.
Barack talked about health care, education, college costs, retirement, taxation, the troops, the war, his background in public service, children, the way the world views us, is he too hopeful, is he too young, is he too black, is he not black enough. The thing which hit the very nail on the head for me was when he said that every child is ours and that we have to stop saying, "That child over there" when if fact it's "our" child over there, ours as a nation.
We can stand as a nation when we want to, in the face of danger, so why should it be different when it comes to caring for the people in it? The US is filled with the "us and them" bullshit and I'm guilty as the next person, but can we keep the "us and them" fight up forever?
I'm willing to embrace a conservative republican and help him pay for his child to go to college. I am. I swear, because let's face it, there's a hell of a lot of conservative republicans who are dirt poor. It's one of those crazy anomalies, but in the spirit of everyone-gets-to-decide-what-they-want-for-themselves, I am still willing to give some of my money to pay for their health care or give them credits to attend a good college, because we all live here. This is all of us, not just me or my kids, but you and your kids.
Now I know tons of you are fiscally conservative. Who doesn't like their money? Please raise your hand if you don't like your money. I didn't think so. I happen to love my money. But, come on here, the amount of money you spend every year on health care anyway, out of your very own pockets to the big Health Maintenance Organizations, what if that money, the stuff you spend anyway, went to everyone? So then you're not just shoveling your money in to feed the HMO's, those private companies whose CEO's make billions, but now you're shoveling it so the elderly woman who lives down block can go to the doctor. She's ours isn't she? It's not just the kids, right? I'm not talking Utopia here, I'm just talking about common sense.
If we weren't already pouring money into our own medical care and getting crappy coverage maybe I'd say, whoooa there Bessy, you want to do what with my money?? But, Holmes, I'm already paying over $5,000 to the HMO's, most of us are, and I've got what's called "decent" coverage, so this is not a big stretch here. I will keep paying my gigantic premiums anyway, it's not like they are suddenly going to disappear. And we pay the costs for what? So when my youngest brakes her collarbone it still cost us over $500 for 15 minutes in the ER because she hasn't met her "personal" minimum yet? So it's either that or I pay the government. Somebody's getting my dollars.
When it boils down to it, even if you're fiscally conservative, can you honesty say that you'd rather have your dollars lining the pockets of the Big Guns? Well, you can if you're a Big Gun, but the rest of the 99.9% of us common folk may want their dollars to help, well I don't know, to maybe help sew the finger back on to someone's hand, let's say? (Yes, that's a Michael Moore shout-out, quick you conservatives who've held on for this long, avert your eyes. And by the way, you all need to see Sicko. For all you liberals out there who think it will be "too much" to see it or you'll get too overwhelmed by the state of things - buck-up Buttercup, this is the world we live in and Mr. Moore does a wonderful job of summing up the broken system currently in place, and spends most of his time discovering the places where the system already works. It's well worth it to be informed and heart wrenching to see how little it works here.)
Okay, so my soapbox is starting to collapse, mostly because I started jumping on it at the end there in my overzealous enthusiasm and one of the joints is kind of giving way. They don't make soapboxes like they used to. My typical rants are about my kids picking their noses and wiping them on the wall as they head up for a bathroom break, they are never about politically-charged-lessons-to-be-learned. And my big stump for Barack turned into a health care debate right in front of my fingers. But, again, keeping quiet on the issues that make my skin itch is not helping anyone, so it was more than time to let the flood gates open.
But, honestly, I couldn't stay quiet one second longer. This just feels too big. I do feel like we as a nation are on the verge of looking at the way we do things differently. The possibility looks so good I keep trying not to stare. I do not think that Hillary will come into office and make a big enough change. I think Hillary has always wanted to be President. Period. She stayed with her husband in light of his behavior simply because she wanted to be the first woman President. Not because she is motivated by the need to change the nation. She has been on her current road for too long. Do I think she's competent to do the job? Yes. Will I stand behind her if she wins the democratic nom? Yes. But she's not my choice. My choice is Barak Obama. I want someone who will light a fire under us and put the pride back into the nation, because it's been missing for far too long. I want someone to fight for a different way of doing things. Where we are now just won't cut it any longer.
Jane Freeman introduced Obama at the rally, she is the wife of former Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman who served as Secretary of Agriculture for presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and she said that she hasn't felt like that there has been a candidate like Obama since Kennedy. She is inspired and so am I.
I honestly wished, while I was sitting in my Target Center chair searching for my socks, that if the entire US could just tune in and listen to him for an hour, it would be a no-brainer. That all of us as a nation crave the same thing. We crave more. More contentedness, more happiness, more options, more freedom, we just want more. But now we want to do more the right way.
If you're on the fence between Hillary and Barack Obama (click on that to link you with his website - it's fabulous and full of information and you can sign-up for email updates), pick the brains of your friends, talk to a therapist, whomever it takes. Or just go vote for Barack.
Tune in next week when I talk about nothing but boogers and vomit, and maybe the part about how on Super Tuesday I blackened the eyes of the Hillary supporters and stripped down to my undies in protest. Though most likely it'll be about boogers.