Barack Obama and 45,000 of his most ardent supporters, on the Oval, at Colorado State University. Such a communal spirit, such fun -- I even got to shake his hand, which, while totally insignificant to anything important, is to me one of the coolest things ever.
Yesterday really was awesome. The Good Doctor Mondo and I woke up early, and headed up to Fort Collins to begin a five plus hour stretch of standing in line, on a crisp and clear day. We got there early, but there were two lines -- one for a group of about 2,000 VIPs, who were those who'd actually volunteered on the campaign, and one for everyone else.
While we were walking to the "everyone else" line, The Good Doctor Mondo gets a call from one of her co-professors (and the only one in their department more politically active than my lovely wife), who joyously lets us know she's got two extra VIP tickets. SCORE!!! So we jump out of one line, and head for the VIP line, which at this point only has about 50-75 people in front of us.
Well, as the day grew longer and warmer, the lines just got longer, and longer, and longer. At one point, the line for the port-o-johns was as long as the VIP line had been when we showed up. Even just minutes before his speech, the line to get in was still two and a half MILES long. But everyone was treating the occasion as a party of sorts, chatting with neighbors, jumping out of line to bring back coffee and sandwiches, trading stories with campaign volunteers from other states, etc. When you're a swing state, you get the troops in from all over, and most of the western US was well represented in line.
Eventually, we made it in, and lo and behold, the Good Doctor and I were right up against the railing, woohoo!!!!
I must say, it really was like a rock concert. But unlike some, I don't find the "celebrity" aspect of this campaign disturbing. I think it's fanfuckingtastic that for once, people are idolizing politicians more than some random rich drunk party girl who may or may not have a modicum of talent for something, or some gangsta rap wannabe, or some jock who might run fast, but goes home and beats his wife and shoots up 'roids, or what not. Whether or not you agree with Barack Obama's policy ideas is one thing, but seriously, it's amazing that someone running for office can be looked up to, and is clearly a positive influence on the youth of today.
The speech itself was standard Obama stump speech material, with a bit of extra discussion of creation of more clean energy jobs, which is important to Colorado, and more so for CSU, where a lot of research and work is being put into wind turbines, and such. There were tons of Secret Service around, including one dude who was a spitting image of Agent Smith from The Matrix. I snapped a few pix on my camera phone, but they suck -- what you see is courtesy of the Good Doctor Mondo, who had a pretty damn good vantage point.
For me, the most exciting aspects of the day were several. First, looking out there and seeing a simply massive field of faces and heads. We're talking about 45,000 people in a city less than an hour away from where Obama had just spoken in front of over 100,000. I'm pretty certain if there were no Fort Collins speech yesterday, nearly all of us would have been in Denver. To think that even after the Denver speech, there were THAT many people still to see him, is mind-boggling:
Secondly, due entirely to the good graces of my wife's colleague, and our early arrival, and getting to stand by the railing, I got to shake Barack's hand on his way out. I thought that was really cool. Everyone was trying to get a piece of him. A couple of the Secret Service agents had collected 5-6 copies of Obama's books to sign, because no one was allowed to hold out pens, and such, for security reasons. Third, Obama has to have about the most ballin' tour bus I've ever seen.
Last, and certainly least, my sweetie even found me in one of the Yahoo News photos of the event. Okay, that last bit is completely unnecessary, but she had fun playing the Mondogarage version of "Where's Waldo", thanks to this Associated Press shot:
I leave you with one thought. Obviously, there are aspects of this election that remain very close. There are states that will go red no matter what, and Obama may be hard pressed to get more than 51-52% of the overall vote. However, it has to be extremely difficult to imagine a scenario where anyone who has energized the electorate enough to draw 150,000 people to see him speak on a Sunday (during football season, no less), will not win this election, absent major shenanigans by the other side. I just don't see it. As charged up as the Republican base allegedly is by the McPalin ticket, it takes them 15 rallies to reach the kinds of people the Democrats brought out just in a single day.
I have no idea what an Obama presidency is going to ultimately bring this country. I am comfortably certain, however, that we have found the real uniter, and not the dividers that the Republicans have been putting forth for the last decades.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the last little cool bit. On the way home, the Good Doctor Mondo and I stopped off at a Starbucks for a couple of chais, and were talking to the barista about how cool the event was. Well, she must have been an Obama supporter, because she said we were getting the "Obama discount", and only charged us the cost of a single plain coffee. Sweet!