Sunday, January 27, 2008
From our friend Hajji:
My brief conversation with Barack Obama…
Right after he finished a damn fine talk to a few thousand folks, he sorta made a bee-line toward stage right, where our crew of volunteers had been signing up hundreds of people to go door-to-door in their neighborhoods to remind people to vote today...Judging by the numbers I’m staring at….I'm thinking it kinda worked…..
BHO: (reaching out to shake my hand) Hey!
Hajji: Hey! Thank you!
BHO: (eyeing my “Volunteer for Change” Badge) Thank YOU!
Hajji: I just wanted to come down to see if you’re really “The Guy”.
BHO: Well, what do YOU think?
Hajji: I think you are.
BHO: Then let's go get 'em!
He spent the next 45 minutes being mobbed for handshakes all across the front of the amphitheater.
The crowd was truly amazing and about the most apparently diverse crowd I've ever seen for anything other than the “diplomatic immunity” line at the NYC DMV.
Security was excellent. Metal detectors, tons of local cops, omnipresent Treasury agents and spotters on every rooftop, not to mention a Women’s Rugby Team whose destructive capabilities I’ve first-hand witnessed, whom I’ve been bled on by, danced with (don’t ask to see THOSE pics) whom I’ve admired and been out-drank by since my little Katie-bear was Captain.
I’ve been waiting from reports from some of the people I know who weren’t really rabid BHO supporters to see what they thought.
But that was yesterday…THIS was today…
Today, half a MILLION people, in a state where many still write-in Strom Thurmond out of muscle-memory and habit, turned out to vote for Democratic candidates.
Only 2 counties went to other candidates today. Oconee , the extreme Northwestern, went to John Edwards while Myrtle Beach ’s Horry County , where widespread machine problems were reported during the Repugnicon primary, went to Mrs. Bill (“STFU!” you’re staining your LEGACY!) Clinton.
Congrats to both of them for such strong showings in the northerwesternmost and northeasternmost counties!.
The most surprising county win for Obama was……ahem….…you guessed it!…PICKENS county, whose reputation of being more red than your average bulbous clown nose turned out over 15% of eligible voters, including repugs, liberts, indies, greens and commies (I don’t really know, but assume there was at least one) to squeak out a 1%victory by Obama over NATIVE SON, John Edwards in a freekin’ DEMOCRATIC primary!
Now, before you get all “His father worked in a MILL” on me, remember that I voted, with glee and conviction TWICE for the man in double-ought-four, and respect him and continue to wish him success and a place on the National Democratic Ticket.
Our “Target Precinct” comprising most of downtown Easley, SC…where I spent my morning hours learning more about what happens when people come out to vote than I ever thought possible (AND witnessed an actual I-vote voting system problem at start up, film at 11) recorded…get this kids, I’m gonna type it BIG….
78% of voters for…Barack Obama!
It wasn’t easy…weeks of intensive canvassing, thousands of Easley people who were phoned…probably tens of thousands of times (some maybe just TODAY) turned out to “Mash that Big, Red, “Vote” button.”
I must admit that there were many times today I could’ve cried from the conversations I heard. As a “Certified Poll Observer” I was forbidden from interacting with voters directly, but I was deeply touched by what I heard and saw.
In the afternoon, I was relieved at the polls so that I could make some of those thousands of calls. So many times, there were people who wanted to vote, but hadn’t because they simply couldn’t get out to vote. More than a few of them were only a few blocks away from their voting locations, but couldn’t hoof it, so were “just sittin’ this one out”.
So I was got some “Mapquest “(gods bless ‘em) magic maps and filled up the tank.
“Baby Blue”, the Isuzu Rodeo donated by Dr.Lagleva so that Spanky could have some wheels when he got home from Iraq transmogrified into the “Obama” GOTV shuttle.
I picked up some voters, dropped ‘em at the Polls…raced to pick up a few more, dropped them off and took the first couple, smiling and laughing and sporting “I VOTED” stickers, dropped them off at the drugstore and then delivered some more to the polls.
I met some folks today, lots of folks. They were from everywhere with tutti-frutti DNA and all-the-way backgrounds.
They were all shades and all histories and all human and all people and all souls and all WORTH it!
Each and every one of ‘em was worth the few days of my time that I’ve given to the cause. They kept thanking me for being there, but my gratitude toward them is a deluge that washes over me, a respite from the drought that I hope will continue to flow through the valley to nourish all our souls.
What an uplifting day for me. I’m hardly worthy of the pride I feel right now. I’m gonna hafta see my massage pal, Dennis, to work out the kinks I’ve developed, just from patting myself on the back so much. Brief celebrations, hugs and handshakes and “Attaboy’s” from the “paid staffers” before I started looking for the big party…
…but I instead found that while we’re out here celebrating, jumping up and down in rhythm to the beat of our swollen hearts, thumping our chests in victory over another couple of pretty good choices while taking in the glorious view from the lofty heights afforded, we suck in the political O2 like the first gasp of a newborn whose first cry is only to make room for the second, life-giving breath….
…While we gloat…those “paid staffers” (at least the ones not currently texting me from the bar in Columbia, U owe me BIG!) are packing up their worn and sticker-covered bags and heading out to Jersey, to Cali, to Texas then Honolulu, to Tennessee and to Topsham, to suffer the (Singapore) slings and outrageous arrows of grass-roots, grass-skirts and even that Maui Grass misfortune of Political Hamlet dwelling. (oh! To admit to have inhaled, who among us hasn’t? Which, among us have yet to EX-hale?)
Bless them, each and every one… Paid pennies for their sleepless nights… Fed by whatever happens to have been donated (what was it with that CASE of apricot preserves, 20 loaves of white bread and only ONE jar of chunky peanut butter?) sleeping where ever and driving what ever for thousands of miles.
Who then are the REAL Zealots, then? Is it those of us who creep out of our warm homes into our own comfortable community, who sleep in our own beds, who only slightly change the regular flow of our lives so that we can wear the pin of our chosen candidate? Is it WE, who hanker for a hand-shake and a quick word with “THE” one, who may or may not become “THE GUY or GAL” we choose to hang our hopes upon?
Or is it those who travel with “The Show”? Is it those who descend on our states to promote, to organize, to galvanize, to mobilize, to accessorize our bumpers, our lawns, our chests…to tattoo our very hearts with the logos of our hopeful Heroes?
The passion is the same. The intensity is the same. The dedication is the same.
The difference is the difference between involvement and COMITTMENT.
The Chicken and its egg versus the Pig and its bacon…
Which are YOU?
I wanna be the PIG!
…and I’m ready to WRASSLE!!!
-Tom Hodges, Pickens County
Great job Hajji!! Walking the walk while others merely talk the talk.
Maybe you could swing a cabinet post if he gets elected!