Friday, September 5, 2008

Politics as usual (or not?)

So once again, things have been busy and posting happened quite a while ago. Since then, some fun things have happened. Probably I'll split them into different posts.

For starts, sometime in the last week or two, I had the chance to attend a political rally where Obama/Biden were speaking. I've never been to quite such a large political event before (15,000+ people - quite strange after the daily 10 people or so I'm used to), other than several years ago when I heard Ralph Nader speak. I went mostly for the experience, and to hang out with other people instead of working, not because I'm really a big Obama supporter (more to come).

We had to show up pretty early and stand in a significant line to make it into this ball park in a Midwestern town. A number of local and state political candidates spoke, and then several hours of loud music and bright sunshine late, Biden and then Obama spoke to the assembled crowd.

I think what impressed me most about the whole event was the diversity of the crowd that attended. Maybe this area is inherently more diverse than the other parts of the midwest that I'm more familiar with. But I was surprised at the racial/ethnic and even age diversity of the crowd, although it was quite apparent some of the kids were less than enthusiastic about their attendance. It seems like maybe Obama really does draw a pretty diverse crowd of supporters, which is cool if it's true.

The speeches themselves weren't anything special. I'm rather innately skeptical when it comes to politicians, especially major party politicians. A lot of what Biden/Obama said was about what you would have expected any astute politician to say in front of a crowd of people from an economically depressed midwest swing-state. I was a little more impressed than I had expected to be by the renewable energy spin that Obama took, likening what needs to happen in this country to secure our energy independence and shore up our job market via the development and production of green energy technology to the challenges that the US faced and conquered in the Space Race. He drew a little on JFK's leadership in that instance, suggesting perhaps that he's the kind of leader who could make such a thing happen again. Sounds good to me... we'll see what happens though. (By the way, the original JFK speech is pretty awesome - well worth listening to, try here and for the second part, here). I've always sort of thought that what it would take to shift our country off the oil track and on to a sensible, sustainable economy and society was something as motivating and impowering as the space race was historically... nice to hear a politician latch on to the idea.

All in all, it was a worthwhile trip. I'm far from sold as an Obama supporter, and definitely want to find out how much substance is behind the nice ideals that were trotted out in the speech. Most significant about the trip though was the chance to people watch and see how such events take place. Felt kind of cool to be a small part of the kind of democratic(?) process so much a part of our country. And powerful to see how people, the real people who make up the life blood of this country are captured by ideas and speeches, for good or ill, motivated by the real hurts and challenges and dreams that are a part of their lives.

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