Saturday, November 01, 2008


Allie and I volunteered for Obama today.

We showed up at the Kansas City campaign headquarters in the early afternoon. It's a dazzling autumn day here today. The field office is in a little upscale strip mall a mile or so south of downtown. I'd guess it's 2,000 square feet, with storefront windows all around. The place is hopping. People are moving every which way, all with all kinds of Obama T-shirts and hats and stickers with their names on them and things like "I'm from Texas" and "of California" (on my first visit to the place a few weeks ago, I was greeted by a fellow from San Fran who had moved out here for a month just to turn our red state blue).

There are folks typing into computers, folks working phone, carrying clipboards, working the counter, handing out water bottles, blacks, whites, old folks, little kids, union guys with great big beards. When we we're standing in line to check in, a woman asks us if we could carry some stuff in from a truck out in the parking lot. We run out and grab great big bags of barbecue from KC Masterpiece and bring them into the inner sanctum where there is already a ton of food.

Today our job is canvassing. We're given a list of addresses in a nearby neighborhood, and off we go to knock on doors. The neighborhood is mostly apartment buildings -- the city kind that are several stories high with locked front doors. But we manage to find a few people. They're all voting for Obama. One guy even signs up to volunteer.

Back at HQ to turn in our sheets a couple of hours later, the place is even busier than before. There's a new spread of barbecue, this one from Gates, and across the room there's a great big table full of baked goods that folks have been bringing in all day. I look around to soak it all in. It's kind of like how it was during the mayoral campaign, at the doublewide, only much, much bigger and backed by a totally professional, well-funded operation. And this is just one city in a state that's gone Republican the last couple of times.

On the way there I said to Allie I'd never seen anything like this. I thought that maybe the Carter campaign was exciting. I couldn't tell if that was just because it was the first one I was really aware of, or if it were one of those big moments in American politics. It seems to me there was a lot of grassroots excitement, what with all the peanut stuff and the Billy Beer.

But this. This is something else.

Allie and I went to the rally in KC a couple of weeks ago, and we'd never seen anything like it. 70,000 people for a short political speech. The line was three to five people wide, and it snaked around the entire Liberty Memorial -- more than a mile long. We've both been in Missouri for two campaigns, and never have we seen this kind of excitement.

I talked with my uncle earlier today, and he said he worries a little bit about the inevitable disappointment. No doubt that, if elected, Barack is going to screw up here and there. He's inheriting some huge challenges, and he's going to lose at least a couple of political battles. There'll be times when he'll be a politician and piss us all off.

But even if he's a complete failure, I think all this is worth it.

What an incredible moment of hope and excitement in our nation. To have all these people from all these different backgrounds coming out everyday all across the country to work together to get this guy elected, it's just...

I'd almost say un-American if I weren't feeling so proud to be one.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Good to hear all the action out there. Yesterday we got 3 calls for Obama. Nothing for McCain or anyone else. If this state can go Obama and, as a special bonus, ditch Mitch, I would feel like the earth really has moved no matter what the global warming and future political disappointments/reality would bring after the fact.