As many of you know I have always been politically involved; as far back as I can remember my mom dragged me to rallies, marches, protests, picket lines, etc. I would go with her to caucus and to vote. Back then they had a kids area at the polling station where I could vote too-for something like my favorite dessert, or kind of pizza. Reflecting on that now, I think that gave me a sense of being involved, and maybe an inevitability to vote as an adult. It never occurred to me that some people didn't vote. I was taught that it was not just my right, but my responsibility to participate in our democracy, and further, if I didn't I had no right to complain about the outcome.
Of course as a kid I didn't realize the significance of these lessons. Now that I have children I am eager to demonstrate to my boys how important it is to make your vote count and your voice heard. And that sometimes you have the opportunity to witness history in the making, even if you are not old enough to appreciate what you're seeing at the moment.
Which is why I had them play hooky from school Friday to attend a Barack Obama rally and listen to him speak. Regardless of whether he wins the nomination or even the presidency, I believe my boys will always remember that day. It was a truly amazing experience.
Obama spoke at Key Arena-where the Seattle Sonics basketball team play, and concerts are regularly held. There are just over 17,000 seats there, the Mayor allowed more than 18,000 people in, and had to turn away 3,000 people. It was electric, the crowd was pumped up and it was just as loud as any rock concert I've attended.
Obama was very eloquent, positive, and directly addressed many issues that his opponents on both sides of the aisle have brought up as a reason not to vote for him, especially his message of hope. He said he didn't believe that hope is defined as wishful or whimsical thinking, more that it is a mindset that you can make things better for the country, that we're not stuck in this inevitability of failure and futility. That we, as citizens can rise up and say we're not going to live in fear, that we're not willing to erode our personal rights and the constitution to protect ourselves from those who "hate us for our freedom" or some other Roveian bullshit we've been fed these past 7 years.
Rick says we are in the midst of a paradigm shift, and I see our nation's youth as a major factor. Finally someone is discussing issues that are relevant to them, who has a positive vision of their future. These potential voters are clinging to that one word-Hope. Hope that Obama will be their voice, a reason to be proud of their country, inspire them to give back to their communities, engender an enthusiasm for politics because they are seeing firsthand what being involved can do, and are confident they can do it again.
Saturday we took them to caucus; it was a crazy, crowded affair but it felt really good to be involved and to participate. I've never seen so many people at a caucus and when they asked everyone whether this was their first, I was amazed at how many people raised their hands (including my husband!). I took pride in being able to say I had done this before.