Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Report Back: Obama in Detroit

Well, even though I was in the mood to call it a day yesterday, I stuck it out and went to see Obama at Joe Louis in downtown Detroit. I'm glad I did. It wasn't anything earth shattering, but it was nice to see the excitement that this candidate can bring. 20,000 people is nothing to sneeze at. Most candidates are lucky to get crowds a quarter of that size. (And if you want to see what I saw, you can take a look at the Freep's 360 degree panorama of the event.)

In the end, I was reassured why I have supported Obama for months and why I believe he will make a great president--inspiration. I know it's not concrete plans or facts (though he had some of those as well). But getting people, especially jaded young people, excited about something other than materialistic needs is a feat of strength to be sure. I stood in line for 2 hours--but so did 20,000 other people--all excited, from all different walks of life, all different ages, all different colors. And for all the bad that could have come out of that, we were all too excited to get pissed about the heat or the slow check in at security or whatehaveyou. For once, I felt united into a group of Americans that was more diverse than ever in support of a movement--a movement not of one man, but a movement that inspires people to get out and volunteer, to donate $10 or $20 when they can, and to move beyond racial barriers when possible to tackle the big issues. The fact is that we have more issues in common than we'd like to admit, and the good part of that is I think Obama is the first candidate in a long time to really point that out.

Is he the savior? No. Is he the cure to our national pandemic of apathy? Probably not. But for one night, it sure felt good to have hope that, as a group, we can truly make a difference.

Call me naive, but it's this inspiration that made me interested in politics to begin with.

On another note, Al Gore was great to hear again. Take it from him, "elections matter." I don't know if this is selective memory or if it's the truth, but ever since he's left politics, he's been an even more amazing public speaker. He can entrance a crowd of Israelites and Palestinians into friendship with his wit, candor and sincerity. Though I know his endorsement wasn't a surprise or even that important at this point, it was great to hear him speak again. It's such a shame that the 2000 election was stolen--a fact that though he did not harp on it, was definitely the undertone of his address. He pointed out two important things: (1) that these past eight years have been a red mark on the history of this nation both internationally and domestically; and (2) that the experience argument against Obama (listen up CVD) is nothing but an excuse to stay with the stodgy old ways of Washington insiders and let the chance for true change pass you by.

Probably the funniest moment of the night came when Obama brought up Hillary Clinton and praised her for making him a better candidate. Some douchebag from in our section somewhere started booing very loudly. Obama pointed at him and called him out (something that CNN did not miss) on it.

All in all, though it was a long night and I'm exhausted today, it was worth it. And hopefully in November I can say that I saw him before he was president.



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