Monday, November 03, 2008


Here's the man.

Yep, we were one of the 35,000 who stood in line for hours to be a part of history, to say “I was there when …” to see Sen. Barack Obama speak to throngs of Democrats in a Republican stronghold. I was there, but I was not alone.

Our daughter chose to come with us. We tried getting in the first time Obama came to Springfield and we were turned away. The 8-year-old bawled that she missed him and it was not going to happen again.

Armed with my little pocket-sized camera, a digital audio recorder, and a satchel of excitement, the three of us parked in the grass and walked two blocks just for the chance. For the first time in my life, I finally have a candidate that speaks to me, that represents me, someone who excites me. I’m proud of that fact that he is my candidate and I’m convinced he will be the best president for our country. But you already knew that. I thought the more interesting report would be the one from my daughter’s point of view. That expanded once I sat in the bleachers and talked with the other children and teens who were there to experience Obama.

It was no surprise to me that the kids had intelligent and articulate things to say about their candidate.

  • My daughter: “I like that he talks about the disabilities. The (people with disabilities) are safe with Obama. I mean, they will feel loved by Obama because he talks about them. And, uh, he’s a really nice guy. That’s what I have to say.”
  • 6-year-old boy: “Because I like Obama.”
  • 8-year-old boy: “He’s a nice person.”
  • 12-year-old boy: “He wants to end the war, get it over with, and get peace. And have affordable health care for everyone. Because people with medication problems, if they didn’t have health care they couldn’t get treated if something happened to them.

  • My daughter: “I think she is very smart and very good mom. She has two little girls and I think it’s a responsibility to take care of them.”

  • My daughter: “It feels like I’m dreaming. I’m in Heaven. I’m just happy I got to go.”

  • 8-year-old: That means we have a new Black person, like it’s our first Black president. What I think is, if Obama becomes president it won’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if he wins or somebody else wins. It’s just about being a good sport.

As was reported widely, this event was bubbling with diversity. I do not believe I have ever attended an event in Springfield where diversity was so apparent. There were many ethnic minorities, an enormous amount of persons with disabilities, many women, lots of children, and many senior citizens. While there were rows and rows of reserved seats for accessibility, the need was too great. There just were not enough front row seats for the crowd of persons with disabilities that attended. Having worked in the disability field for 8 years, I know the disability voting block is low, but this event gave me comfort knowing that more and more people with disabilities are having their voice heard.

Twice, speakers at the podium mentioned there were 40,000 people at the event. Most news reports estimated between 30,000-35,000. I can tell you this: from the moment they opened the gates at 6 p.m., there was a steady stream of people coming into the stadium until 9:30 p.m.

The crowd before Obama came on stage.

The other end of the field. Standing room only.

My wife noted that the crowd was silent at times, absorbing every word of the Senator. At other times, the noise was so loud I had to cover my ears. For two years, media reports have addressed the excitement of the Obama crowds and the energy his speeches give off. It’s hard to quantify or describe, but I understand, now, what people were feeling. He is truly an orator and an inspiration.

It was my daughter's first political rally, and one that she is interested and engaged in. The fact that she takes democracy and policy seriously, makes me proud to no end. Like Barack Obama says, he cannot turn the TV off for us. We parents have a role in the raising and rearing of our children. The only way they will learn about democracy and freedom is to participate in the process and have a stake in the outcome.

For her, the issue of persons with disabilities is very important. Maybe that's because she has a nephew with disabilities, perhaps it's because her parents are involved in disability rights and advocacy. For her young brain, one issue is enough. She can make sense of the different party platforms regarding disability and make informed decisions on her developmental level. Of course at her age, what Mom and Dad think is what she thinks, but she has been exposed to different viewpoints and different thoughts. Hopefully that will translate into an active citizen who is engaged in voting as an adult.


Sky Girl said...

I love the way children frame the election. My son was so disappointed and confused when one of his friends told him "Obama sucks" today. He said he told them, "Don't you know Obama will be our first black President?" It's very important to my 5-year-old, and I am proud of what he has learned about equality from this election.

Busplunge said...

Jack, we saw you in line. The boys wanted to see the line and spontaneiously started shouting "O Ba Ma" It was so much fun, we did it twice.

Later, about 9:45 they boys and Kristin and Karen walked up to JFK and stood against the fence by the ball diamond, Some men moved aside so the boys could see Obama.

This afternoon, McCain was on MSNBC Live, and Trey came in told me to listen to McCain and how different his tone was from Obama. Trey is 10 years old. Trey, Austin and Blake, the neighbor boy have met Nixon, Page, Carnahan, Koster, Zwiegel, Sara Lampe, Claire McCaskill, Nick Beatty, and a slew of local candidates. Of they are all democrats, I'm a democrat. But the point is these kids, my grandsons, your daughter are so much more involved then I was at their age. It is wonderful. There is hope for us. Read my blog post for today...Democraacy, a prayer and some advice YES WE CAN!

American Patriot said...


Oh the heart tugs. The humanity. Isn't it wonderful The Messiah can fool even the children.

Oh what a great day tomorrow will be when that no-experienced Socialist will be sent packing.

Oh, hello again Sky Girl. And, oh, isn't equality a good thing? In the spirited words of Jerry Wright, "God Bless America? No, no no. Goddamn America.

You've picked a really wonderful candidate that supports equality.

Sky Girl said...

Howdy, Ampat. Will you be doing the rounds now and insulting us on all of our blogs, or just Chatter and Fat Jack?