Post Number: 8
|Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2010 - 10:43 pm: ||
Woke up late – 8:30 – and zoomed to take a bath and throw some clothes on before picking up a couple of mochas on my way over to Mum’s house at 9AM. This was the day Mum, Mugs and I were going to go make phone calls on behalf of the DFL, and then go hear Obama speak at the Clubhouse on the University of MN campus.
Mum had written the address we needed to be at down on a piece of paper, and then forgotten the piece of paper on her desk – along with her phone so she couldn’t even call the DFL office to find out where we were supposed to be. Thank goodness for my Blackberry and Google – I was able to find the address online through my phone. Wow, I love technology when it’s working!
Got to the Wright building on University Ave and there’s a mass of people – must have been 200 – milling in the parking lot. We signed in and were given a packet with a map in it showing the area we were supposed to be walking, knocking on people’s doors, getting the vote out. But Mum said we were there to do phone calls, so we went inside, up to the 3rd floor and the DFL Center. There were papers and stuff all over the floor, and a bunch of campaign posters all over the walls, some of them really old, like the one of Mark Wellstone in Hmong ceremonial dress, one for Al Franken in ’08, even one for the state elections in ’98. There weren’t enough phones there for everyone, so those of us who had cells used those.
Sitting next to Mum and Mugs, we made phone calls for about 2 ˝ hours, calling people, confirming they are voting, hopefully for Mark Dayton and the DLF ticket, that they know where their polling place is, do they need a ride, and thanking them for voting. I made about 55 calls and talked to 13 people for Dayton, 3 people told me not to call them again (reckon they are voting for Emmers) and the rest weren’t home or the phone was disconnected. I used all my Landmark Education training and all the training from my job as a collections agent in talking to these people, and I felt I was being highly effective!
We stopped about 12:30, maybe a little later, and were given sandwiches for lunch and bus passes to get to the Clubhouse. On the bus going to the campus, I was reminded of when I marched in London for Mandela’s birthday, before he was released. It also reminded me of when I went to hear Desmond Tutu speak, that kind of excitement, of knowing we were all traveling to the same place, to do the right thing, to make a difference, to be the change in the world we want to see. A double bus was chock full of people from the DFL center, and lots of people were smiling, and talking to complete strangers – including me! I mean, I was smiling, and I was talking to complete strangers.
Because we had done some work for the DFL that day, we were given blue tickets that enabled us to bypass the enormous long lines of people waiting to get into the building, and after going through security (no bags over the size of a piece of paper 8 ˝ x 11, open your jackets, turn on all electronics, no water or soda in the building, remove all pins from your clothing), we were ushered pretty much straight in. Along the way we three made brief friends with a guy called Jesse from Liberia who has been in the States 25 years, since he left high school. He got a bachelor’s in criminal justice in Oklahoma City, then went to Harvard and got a Masters in governmental policy, and another in educational policy.
I had never been to the Clubhouse before. It is a huge building. I found it interesting, after Mum pointed it out, that the roof is all wooden beams. It echoed, but not as badly as some of these other kinds of spaces that have ceilings of plastic and metal. Mum’s bum hip won’t let her stand for too, too long, so she was allowed into the wheelchair/handicapped area (with me as her caregiver) and given a seat (I was standing). We ended up less than 200 feet from the podium, and about 100 feet from the doorway where those people we had come to see and hear would be entering through.
There was a band playing who were pretty good. At least, they got me moving – an exercise in dancing without moving my feet! A guy playing guitar came on next, but I didn’t think he was as good as the band. I wish I knew what their name was, I couldn’t catch it, but they came on again after the guy with the guitar, and they played some more. By this time, we had been standing for over an hour, but everyone was still very excited, happy to be there, willing to put up with the discomfort and pressure of all those people, willing to wait. I saw Bill Kelley and Caroline – whose last name I have forgotten, I am so sorry – both of whom I went to school with at the College of Visual Arts St Paul. In fact Caroline and I graduated the same year, and I do remember her, just not her last name. So CVA was well represented. Bill and Caroline were both up on a small stage-like area where there were many other people – I guess they were not Press photographers but still, they got a photo pass. Bill said he had been there since 8am, and it was past 1:30 by that time, and we were looking at another hour before things started happening.
First we had Chris Coleman, mayor of St Paul, make a speech and introduce the pastor, whose name I didn’t catch, who spoke a prayer ( a rather good one – to the Creator of All) and gave a blessing to the event. Then a retired Naval veteran recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and a young Asian girl (maybe Hmong?) – I don’t know, maybe 10? – with an good voice sang the national anthem. After that we had Rebecca Otto, who is running for State Auditor again, get up and make a speech, then Swenson, who is running for AG. Al Franken got up – a dynamic speaker – he was grabbing the podium with both hands, standing on tiptoes as he leaned into the microphone. He said we had 10,000 people there, and then amended that for the fire marshals, and said 7,000. And he had a wonderful analogy for the country and the fix we are in. He said the Republicans have all been referring to this country as a car stuck in the ditch. Well, Franken took that analogy and expanded it a whole lot! He said it’s not simply stuck in a ditch, it’s rolling down a steep embankment, with the American public in the back seat while the Republicans have removed all the seatbelts, and at the bottom of the embankment is a sheer 2,000 foot cliff, with jagged rocks at the bottom of the cliff, and alligators in amongst the rocks. And he likened himself, and people like Klobuchar and Dayton, as pushing and pushing to get the car to stop rolling down the embankment, and get it out of the ditch. This analogy got a lot of laughs and cheers.
A young woman who is a senior at the UofM and vice president of the Students Organizing For America (SOFA? Did they really call their organization SOFA?) gave a nice speech but the microphone was too far from her face and it was hard to hear, especially with all the noise of people continuing to trickle into the building. Amy Klobuchar made a nice speech too, but again, the sound quality was compromised.
By this time, I have been standing for over 2 hours and my feet are aching. Mum is thirsty and tired, and we haven’t even hit the main event yet! However, about 20-30 minutes after Klobuchar left the stage, Mark Dayton comes on. He is even more difficult to hear, the poor acoustics combined with his (sorry to say it) lackluster speaking voice, it was impossible to hear more than one word out of ten. And he is so stiff! Both Mum and I were watching him walk along the stage to the podium and thinking that he needs to have some bodywork done – bad! He was so rigid, like he’s in pain. Maybe it was nerves, I don’t know, but he looked like he was having a hard time just walking.
Anyway, without anyone realizing it, Obama is walking down to the stage to the podium and the place goes nuts. Bananas. The sound level is incredible. I could believe there were 10,000 people there – I mean, 7,000 – just to make the fire marshals less anxious. But back to Obama. The man is so unassuming. No one saw him enter into the clubhouse from behind the curtain – and we were all looking for him! He shook hands with Dayton, gave him a man-hug, and then started on his speech. O, my goodness. What I could hear of it (he had the same microphone issues everyone else had), he was eloquent about the work ahead of us to pull this country out of the ditch it’s in (saying the Republicans were sitting on the sidelines watching, with a tow truck, refusing to move), and the work ahead of us to get Dayton and the DFL ticket in MN elected.
There were several times as I was watching that I was suffused with a delicious sense of hope, of possibility. I was deeply touched by his speaking and who he is – I think he is a good man, trying to do a truly difficult job and produce near impossible results in the face of no agreement and outright obstructionism from certain Republicans in league with corporate and special interests.
I so want him to succeed in his vision – that is one long-headed man! He was talking about not just 2 years or 5 years or even 10 years down the road, he was talking about 20 years from now, about our children working hard to tip the balance and change America. So exciting, hearing him talk, I was all teary-eyed more than once. Wow, he carries a lot on his shoulders! Not just the weight of the decisions he has to make, and all the political maneuvering he has to do, but the weight of all our hopes and fears and dreams and wishes for this country and for ourselves and our families. As I said, I was teary-eyed more than once.
And when he was done, I swear, the walls of the building were reverberating from the noise. And then he walks along the front of the audience (must have made the Secret Service guys itchy as heck!), along the edge of the barriers there to stop people from rushing the stage, and he and Dayton are glad-handing the crowds. People are screaming and going nuts, trying to touch him, to see him, taking photos with their cameras and i-pods and phones. I was about 10 feet from him at one point, shouting and teary-eyed yet again, as Mum managed to shake his hand. I did get a good photo of him for myself. And the euphoria, the high that was in the building due to his ability to presence the possibility of change for the better for all of us – why, people were screaming “I love you!” One woman said to me that she is changing her status on Facebook from “married to her husband” to “married to Obama!” It was amazing and exhausting and even now, several hours later, I am moved to tears by the thought of this man doing his best to make this world a place that works for everyone. Wow.
It took a good 25 minutes for the building to pretty much empty. Mum and I stood by the door after we got out, waiting for Mugs, and we noticed and commented on how many young people there were! Yes, there were a lot of older people Mum’s age, a lot of middle-aged people like myself, a lot of early middle-aged people too, but masses and masses and masses of late teens and early-middle twenties people. That was a hopeful thing too, seeing that, seeing so many young adults making the time, taking the time, to be there and listen, knowing that Obama is talking to them as well as to the older adults, many of them being able to vote for the first time and taking that responsibility seriously. Did you know that in 2008, over 15 million voters were first time, young adults voting? I didn’t know that.
And even on the bus back to the Wright building where we had left Mum’s car, people were still talking about what they heard, and how awesome it was being there, and how much they hope things will get better. So great. You know, my eldest, Nicollette, who just started at the UofM this fall, called me just before Obama went on stage, and I was talking to her, trying to hear her (there was such a lot of noise!), as I had texted her that I was at the rally and where was she, ‘cause I wanted her to be there, she would have loved it, and she called me to say that she was working that day and couldn’t be there. Well, Obama walked in when I was on the phone with her, and I know I was shouting along with everyone else. Nicollette said she had never heard me sound like that. She said I sounded like a 13-year old girl screaming for Justin Bieber. Funny.
So yeah. That was my day today. And when I got home, I had me some curried chicken with lentils, peas, corn and rice, as I hadn’t had anything since the mocha early this morning, a protein bar Mum brought, and some of Mug’s beet salad she had brought, while we were at the DFL center. And I have been sitting here knowing that I had to write about what happened today, and still thinking about the day and digesting the events, what I saw, what I felt, what I heard. Yeah. So. That’s my day.
Post Number: 10
|Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2010 - 11:21 pm: ||
Post Number: 348
|Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2010 - 06:37 pm: ||
Wow, sounds like quite an experience. I'm happy it makes you feel hopeful. I'm trying to catch a bit of that myself.
Thanks for posting this. best, risa