Before I throw my back into this campaign, before I get solidly behind this man, I thought, I ought to go see him. In person. Hear what he has to say, shake his hand.
Truth be known, I have already been leaning his way. Been out knocking on doors in NH, sent a couple of bucks. More than I’ve done any election since 1972, when, at age 12, solidly disgusted with Watergate and fed up with Tricky Dick, I went out leafleting for George McGovern.
So this morning, 5 AM, I am up and off to Concord, New Hampshire, for a rally in Rollins park. No NYC, this, but a decent showing. At 8:30, 100 people, ten minutes later the line had doubled. Don’t know the final numbers, but it was a good crowd. Beautiful sunny morning, some folks strolling up with lawn chairs. Dogs and kids, volunteers wandering through the crowd signing up supporters.
Senator Obama took the stage after a brief introduction full of the obligatory refrences to the Red Sox and New England fall days. There was a smattering of applause – these Granite State folks don’t give it away. And he started speaking.
I will cut to the chase here, as I was not in Journalist mode – no tape recorder, steno pad, or “A-list” blogger photographer tagging along behind. So I’ve few quotes and only these cell-phone pictures. I will tell you stright out – I will support this man.
Barack is intelligent, articulate, and confident. What he says has some thought behind it, some down-in-the-trenches experience. That is obvious. He has the right positions, far as I am concerned, positions could restore some sanity to this country.
But what struck me most about his speaking is his belief in the people of this country, and his sense of who we are as a Nation. Generous, kind. Wanting to do the right thing and frustrated with how little help our government is giving us. What is broken about our government, he said, is the leadership, how we do politics. Not the people.
Barack Obama is asking us to support him in supporting ourselves. He knows about leadership, having been in public service for two decades. He knows that in a democracy, leadership is just that – service to the public.
It has been way too long since I heard anyone anywhere near the presidency talk like this. He knows government, but it is not in an abstract kind of way. He kept the connection between policy and people that so often gets lost, leaving candidate’s position statements sounding like so much moving of pawns around on a chessboard, trying to find some abstract optimal solution. In speaking today, Sen. Obama kept the connection alive. Policy is about serving ordinary people, helping solve problems we encounter in our daily lives.
I was moved. Because to Barack Obama, ordinary people are magnificent people. And this democracy of ours should be, can be, their equally magnificent government.
And he said “… I will occasionally ask you to sacrifice”. How refreshing to be asked to serve, to contribute to my own government.
I was inspired, and as I walked away a phrase came into my head, from another speech over a century ago, that seemed apt; ” … so that govenrment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth”.
At the end of the speeches, after the questions, he came out into the crowd. Talking to people, shaking hands. Listening, I saw, and real concern. I caught his eye, shook his hand, said “Thanks for your hard work”. He smiled.
I am going to put my back into this campaign.