The Golden Gopher, Gord Prickett, Rallies for Obama: his journal notes
O MY! no, O-BAMA!
First a word about the correspondent:
I'm a Minnesota DFLer, since 1996. And a Democrat since 1968, working the precincts from homes in Illinois, Arizona, and Missouri, before retiring to my home state. I grew up an "Elmer Anderson-Stassen Liberal Republican" in Morris, and in St Anthony Park - a St Paul neighborhood beside the "Farm School" and Luther Seminary. Elmer was my Scoutmaster, and our State Senator for the 42nd District in the late 1940s and 50s.
After watching the debates on film in the American Embassy of Karachi, Pakistan, this young Lieutenant (jg) sent his absentee ballot back to Minnesota marked for Richard M. Nixon, President, and Elmer L. Andersen, Governor.
Now to the present - and the Obama Rally on Ground Hog Day in Minneapolis
As the sun prepares to rise on the Sunday after.. I prepare to sort through some notes and impressions after being present at a Main Event of this election year. A Barack Obama Presidential Rally.
We arrived downtown early, 122 miles from our shoreline home in Southern Aitkin County.
Doors would open at 1:30 p.m. for a Saturday crowd, just three days before the statewide Caucus on Super Tuesday. We left the parking ramp - and ten dollars - next to the professional basketball arena - called a "center," by the hometown Target Corporation. (See Dayton's.)
Minneapolis crowd-control police directed us away from the Target Center onto a highway bridge where we joined a long line of hundreds, gazing down at the foundation construction work for the new public-private stadium of the Minnesota Twins.
We started our outside wait at 12:45, in calm twenty-something degree weather. The neighbors in line were upbeat and friendly. They came from Hayward, Wisconsin, the nearby suburbs, and The Cities. We fielded questions about our North Country, the resurgence of mining - in iron, nickel-copper, and precious metals. It was "chilly," but not real cold. The companionship, warm parkas and mittens, and no wind certainly helped.
We became aware of a large parade of walkers passing by us - going to the end of the line. Soon it was far out of sight, along the bridge and freeway ramp, where we stood at mid span. This was going to be a huge rally!
What we didn't know then, and would learn an hour and a half later, was that every one of us ticketed Obama fans would need to pass through a careful security checkpoint. Before the rally could get fully underway, some 16 to 20 thousand of us would snake around the outside of the Target Center to the front doors. Finally entering the warm lobby, we would surge into several security stations where our signed tickets were collected, and all purses and diaper bags were opened.
Good seating was now available. Doors had been open for an hour. We had stood in line outside for an hour and then slowly walked towards and around the arena for another hour. But now we were warm and comfortable in a half-full arena with loud rock music, while those thousands that had gotten in line behind us now filtered into their seats for over another hour. My partner had plugged her ears. Earlier she had asked rhetorically. "Why am I doing this?"
But this political husband, being not very attentive, was happily scanning the crowd, looking for colleagues and noting all the ages, ethnicities, and styles of dress. A very diverse crowd - not unlike past DFL conventions in St. Paul, Rochester, St. Cloud, and Duluth. Only more babies in strollers, kids in arms, toddlers toddling, school-age kids, college-age, no military, fewer elders.
Enter Mayor R T Rybak !
It's now around 4 o'clock, and we've heard from the "Golden Smog," pretty-good rockers.
Five white guys with songs, guitars, and drums, with a Beatles sound.
The Mayor is beaming onto the stage with arms raised and a big WELCOME to all. After all, he called this meeting - as State Chair for the campaign, and as one who early on, urged the Senator to make the race. Now the arena is nearly packed, the Candidate is backstage, and all is ready. Rybak is radiant.
Three supporting congress people are named and two are introduced on stage, with the new "Third City" mayor. Jane Freeman comes on as we are told that her late husband Orville nominated JFK in 1960. Mrs. Freeman, former First Lady of Minnesota, introduces "The Next President of the United States !"
The Messenger of HOPE
There is no need for the binoculars I had forgotten at home, as there are four huge screens above the stage where Barack Obama bounds up the steps, greeting and embracing mayors and Congress, then back down the stairs to find and hug the elderly and radiant Jane Freeman.
We are greeted and thanked as "MINNESOTA!" The turnout is huge, and the crowd noisy and appreciative. Mayor Rybak had brought us all to our feet, and now the Senator acknowledges the warm welcome and urges those who have seats to become more comfortable. Obama's style on the platform/stage is interesting. The stage is large enough for a full delegation of greeters. Now it becomes devoted to the one roaming speaker with a hand mike, who turns regularly and gracefully to address everyone in the hall, face to face.
We are led through the stages of this campaign that started in Springfield, Illinois, a year ago. "Why run for president?" We hear a litany of all the troubles we face and finally the words of Martin Luther King, Junior. It is all about "the urgency of now." Waiting til later just will not do for this young legislator from Illinois.
We hear the voices of his critics and opponents. There are many reasons given why he is not the one for the presidency this year. The speech turns next to the advocate's case for this race, why now, and why change must happen here. One memorable argument: "If you work, you should not be poor!"
Are You Ready?
Obama began his conversation with the audience with one insistent question: "ARE YOU READY FOR CHANGE?!" He spoke frequently of children and their needs today. "Every child is our child," he insisted. "All children are our children."
We must make it easier for students to enter college. He would grant each student $4,000 for a year's tuition, then require the student to return this investment with their own investment in America at the completion of their schooling. By a variety of months of service at places where the need is greatest.
The war in Iraq was "unwise." Because of this war, today we are not more safe and the campaign against the terrorists in Afghanistan is not adequate. He will end this war in Iraq as President and bring the combat troops out in 2009.
Are you ready for change?
Obama will end the prevailing "mindset of fear" of the Bush Administration. It has developed a "policy of fear." Used to scare the people into accepting whatever it wants to do. He was criticized for saying he would meet personally with heads of adversary governments. But he quotes JFK again, "Do not negotiate from fear, but never fear to negotiate."
It is time to "Turn the Page and Write the Next Chapter in our History."
His message to the World - "America is Back!" Ready to lead on a host of issues that he ticked off - including Global Climate Change and Nuclear Proliferation. World health and poverty, Energy and sustainable development.
Are you ready for change? It won't be easy!
The Status Quo resists. The arguments against these changes come fast and hard. He has been called a "hope-monger," naive, unprepared, foolish. You must believe in earned change. In hard work. One's judgement can be clouded by fear. This contest is not just about experience and years in government. It is about judgement and common sense. It is the future versus the past.
Finally, a Sermon of Hope
Nothing of lasting importance has ever been accomplished without first imagining and hoping for it. Obama recalled a host of accomplishments to bolster this key concept - this "audacity of hope" that is his trademark.
For example, the American Revolution, the freeing of the slaves, the victory over fascism, the gaining of women's suffrage, federal laws banning discrimination in voting, housing, education, employment, and the full civil rights of all U.S. citizens.
If we can hope, if we can believe in it, this change that we seek will come from the bottom up. It is up to us. This is a defining moment for America. So go out and caucus, campaign, vote, and believe!
We gave him a pretty big ovation. I'd call it a movement.
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