Monday, February 11, 2008

Drunk on Kool-Aid

"You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and
they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they... won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said
fifty people a day walking in singin' a bar of Alice's Restaurant and
walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement."
-- Arlo Guthrie, "Alice's Restaurant"

Allow me one final day for a while (with the primaries slowing down after tomorrow) to gush about the Junior Senator from Illinois. You see, today I took that final, deadly sip of Kool-Aid and joined 38,000 of my fellow Marylanders in personally attending the Great Rockstar Tour of 2008 and seeing Senator Obama speak live.

Let me dispense with the speech straight away. At this point, I could give most of it by heart. The fact that I saw his Saturday night speech in Richmond and some of his Sunday speech in Alexandria meant that I wasn't blown away by the words themselves because I knew what was coming. He added in some regional stuff like complimenting Camden Yards (this was the speech in Baltimore in front of 13,000 after his morning College Park speech drew 25,000) and there were some funny impromptu lines about "Chi-Town" and "South Side!" Otherwise, standard stump fare. The real experience was the movement.

They had to turn people away in College Park after moving the speech from old Cole Field House to the larger Comcast Center and upon arriving in Baltimore, 30 minutes before the doors opened, the lines wrapped around the building. As would be expected of an Obama rally, the crowd was mostly made of African-Americans (it was Baltimore, after all) and young people, but there were a fair amount of older White people and Latinos. Even though it was below 30 degrees, everyone was in great spirit and excited to be there. We got in, settled, and there were some speeches, most notably from Mayor Sheila Dixon (Juan's aunt). And then we waited. For two-and-a-half hours. We heard "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield more times than Tom Brady got sacked in the Super Bowl. Nobody lost patience though, and when Rep. Elijah Cummings took the stage, screaming, "Fire it up! Fire it up!" the crowd responded with a roar. Cummings spoke briefly and had to stop in the middle of his final line because the crowd got too loud. Finally, as he finished and the now familiar U2 song started, people went apoplectic. Obama walked out, people jumped to their feet, flashbulbs exploded everywhere. The crowd stayed standing throughout his 35-minute speech.

This is why Obama's time is now, why he's going to win the nomination and then the Presidency. He's not just the first legitimate Black candidate, he has struck a chord that nobody has before him. He's creating a fervor among populations that are usually politically inactive or feel disenfranchised. This is indisputable -- a movement has grown around him to the point that the man Barack Obama pales in comparison to the idea, an idea attractive across any aisle. In this generation's darkest time, enough people are looking for hope that they locked on to the man who made this speech. Since I'm taking myself way too seriously here, compare the man growing into the movement to Hot Rod opening the Matrix of Leadership to become Roddimus Prime. There are four left in this thing, but only nine short months 'Till All Are One.

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