Sunday, April 29, 2007

Behind the Scenes With Obama and Friends

(Cross-posted at the Obama OC blog)

Yesterday, something amazing happened. Barack Obama came to speak at the convention, and I was able to see him up close. And as he actually spoke downstairs, I had a chance to see him speak from the base of the stage... And I saw the magic of Obama right there, as all of us were mesmerized and blown away.

I'd love to share more about my experience with Team Obama in San Diego yesterday, so why not follow me after the flip for more (including more photos)?

All the fun began outside, as Obama supporters braved the morning marine layer and not so warm weather to start building some excitement and give Obama a warm welcome to San Diego. There were convention delegates outside, and there were regular locals. There were always-active progressive Democrats outside, and there were people out there who had never been interested in politics before. No matter where they came from, or what their history of political involvement had been, they were all inspired by that "skinny guy with the funny name", and they were compelled by his message of hope, action, and change to actually get up and take action.

The mood outside was upbeat and lively, and I had such a difficult time NOT getting caught up in the good feeling.

Unfortunately, I could not stay outside for very long. I needed to return inside, and rejoin my fellow delegates inside the convention center. However as soon as I went inside, I found a couple of old friends from around here. They worked with me on Francine Busby's campaign for Congress last year, and I was delighted to find out that these rockstar activists are now part of Obama's grassroots campaign in San Diego.

But anyways, I met my friends, and we were soon swept into a meeting of Obama campaign operatives preparing for the Illinois Senator's arrival. We were given directions on what to do upstairs to prepare for Obama's entry in the convention center, and we soon got to work in ensuring that Obama's time spent here was time well spent. However, our "jobs" did not stop us from snapping photos whenever we had the chance. ; )

After Senator Obama was finished upstairs, it was time for us to go downstairs and prepare for Obama's grand entry onto the floor. We waited outside, awaiting instructions on where to go on the floor and where to run when we get out and welcome Obama to the stage. At first, we were a little frustrated with the wait...
But in the end, the waiting was all worth it.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finished speaking, we awaited our final move. And when we got the signal to go, we rushed toward the stage, flashing our signs and cheering from the top of our lungs. The exuberance was just palpable from all corners of the floor as all of us were sppeding toward the stage. We were about to finally meet the man of our dreams and our hopes.

Soon, Obama arrived... And we all went wild. And then, he spoke. And once he spoke, the magic truly began.

For good reason, the rest of us have become cynical about what politics can achieve in this country, and as we’ve turned away in frustration, we know what’s filled the void. The lobbyists and influence-peddlers with the cash and the connections – the ones who’ve turned government into a game only they can afford to play. They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this government, but we’re here to tell them it’s not for sale.

People tell me I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I promise you this – I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.

I’m running for President because the time for the can’t-do, won’t-do, won’t-even-try style of politics is over. It’s time to turn the page.

And so if we do not change our politics – if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works – then the problems we’ve been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come.

We must find a way to come together in this country – to realize that the responsibility we have to one another as Americans is greater than the pursuit of any ideological agenda or corporate bottom line.

Democrats of California, it’s time to turn the page.

We are one signature away from ending this war [in Iraq]. If the President refuses to sign it, we will go back and find the sixteen votes we need to end this war without him. We will turn up the pressure on all those Republican Congressmen and Senators who refuse to acknowledge the reality that the American people know so well, and we will get this done. We will bring our troops home. It’s time to turn the page.

It’s time to show the world that America is still the last, best hope of Earth. This President may occupy the White House, but for the last six years the position of leader of the free world has remained open.

It’s time to fill that role once more. Whether it’s terrorism or climate change, global AIDS or the spread of weapons of mass destruction, America cannot meet the threats of this new century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. It’s time for us to lead.

It’s time for us to show the world that we are not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. That we are not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they are there or what they are charged with. We are not a country which preaches compassion to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of a major American city.

That is not who we are.

We are America. We are the nation that liberated a continent from a madman, that lifted ourselves from the depths of Depression, that won Civil Rights, and Women’s Rights, and Voting Rights for all our people. We are the beacon that has led generations of weary travelers to find opportunity, and liberty, and hope on our doorstep. That’s who we are.

I was crushed. I was grumbled at. I was uncomfortable contorting my tiny body on the cold, hard ground. However, I did not care. I was having the time of my life as I was watching perhaps the greatest speech ever spoken unfold in front of me. We all cheered, and we all knew that we made the right choice in going with Obama. And once Obama finished speaking, more people rushed to the floor to catch a glimpse of him, touch him, speak with him, just see someone who is actually inviting us to join in this campaign. Obama may be the big celebrity here, but he also empowered us by reaffirming that this campaign really is about us, and about our hopes to end the war, and protect our climate and our planet, and clean up the slimy ways of Washington. We were all empowered, and we all wanted to thank Obama for giving us this opportunity for hope, action, and change.

My world had turned on its head, and I was loving it. I may have already decided to support this person for President, but this completely sealed the deal for me. Whether it was all the people outside, or seeing the actual candidate inside, I got the feeling that I had made the right choice. I think I have become a part of something special, and I can hardly wait to see where all these hopes and dreams go from here. : )

(P.S.: If you want to see the full text of Obama's speech yesterday, go to Lynn Sweet's blog on The Chicago Sun-Times web site.)

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