As it turned out, Suezie and I had to walk all the way down to Key Arena — 2.2 miles, in the rain and wind. The bus we needed was too full to board; and when all was said and done we still beat that bus downtown, for such was the state of the traffic.
When we finally arrived, we found three separate lines of people wrapped half a dozen folks deep around three separate blocks. It was about 10:30 a.m. Things weren’t scheduled to begin until around noon.
But we did arrive, and we did get inside, and we did find seats — and we found Ellen, too. Before long, the arena had achieved standing room only, even up in the nosebleed section. Key Arena holds 18,000 people. It was filled beyond that capacity, and another 3000 people were turned away at the door. Most of them waited outside and listened to the proceedings over a loudspeaker.
Finally, the man himself took the stage. The Exuberant Kid in Front of Us went wild. Well, yeah. So did we.
So did everybody else.
And God, it was beautiful. He was beautiful. Regrettably, I was a bit far away to grab any glorious photos, but I did the best I could.
He blew the arena away with his presence, his passion, and credibility. This is no naive n00b with an industrial set of rose-tinted glasses. This is not merely the Mylie Cyrus of politics. This is a capable, competent leader who’s acutely aware that he’s standing at the foot of a very steep climb. This is a brilliant, intensely charismatic man — a natural-born orator and an intellectual; he is an idealist with a plan. When I arrived at this event, I was already convinced that he’d be my ballot all-star — and by the time I left, I was prepared to throw myself in front of a train for him.
Please, America. Give this man a chance to prove that progress can be made without the same miserable, underhanded, below-the-belt slog through lobbyists and greased palms. Please, America. Put someone in office who can change the international belief that the United States is a sad and cautionary object lesson in hubris. Please, America. It is said that in a democracy, people get the leaders they deserve; well, we deserve someone better.
We deserve some hope. We deserve an articulate, informed, driven president with the force of character to make a difference in the way this country works. We deserve a government that doesn’t foster economic catastrophe while it coddles war-profiteering criminals. We deserve a leader who won’t dispense torture and injustice like Pez; we deserve a president who doesn’t wipe his ass with the Constitution. We deserve a little fucking integrity.
We deserve Barack Obama.
Now rise up. Claim your right to improve your country. Seize the opportunity to have your say; it’s your right, and it’s your duty, goddamn it. People died so you can stand in a room and drop your ballot. People are dying now because not enough of us got our act together and make a change four years ago when we had the chance. And people will die tomorrow, and next year, and the year after that — paying the price for our inaction, and our apathy.
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m sick and tired of being embarrassed by my country. I’m enraged by the cavalier manner in which my civil rights have been systematically eroded, and I’m absolutely infuriated by the disgusting cronyism, the disregard for the law, and the wholesale dismissal of sanity which has been so vigorously undertaken by the present administration.
But it doesn’t have to be that way for another four years if you will rise up.
We can have integrity. We can have progress.
We can have hope.
We can have Barack Obama.
Full set of pictures from the event here.