October 23, 2008

Barack Obama rally: October 22, Leesburg, VA

this is old news to anyone who saw me on flickr or facebook yesterday, but i learned that Barack Obama would be holding a rally in Leesburg, VA yesterday afternoon - which is only about 20 minutes from my office - and basically dropped everything to stand outside for 3 very chilly hours for the privilege of hearing him speak in person.

granted, i was supposed to be working. and i couldn't find anyone who could drop their obligations on such short notice to accompany me. but... dude. i haven't been this invested in politics, ever, in my entire life. i have never once been inspired by a political candidate before. i have never donated to a campaign or a cause until now. if barack obama is elected in two weeks, it will be an absolutely historic moment for this country. i felt that despite the missed work, despite the cold, and despite not having anyone to go with me, i could not pass up the opportunity to be present at what i hope will be a moment where history is made, where people will look back and be able to pinpoint an exact, exciting moment in time when big things started to happen. so i went.

i used to not care, not at all. i didn't even vote the first time i was eligible, which was the 2000 election: i was living in france, completely oblivious to politics. i am also not an overly emotional person in general. so it took me by surprise when i showed up in leesburg yesterday - after fighting through 3 solid miles of cars surrounding the park where obama would be, then joining the hundreds of people walking cheerfully through the gates of the park, and suddenly getting a glimpse of the tens of thousands of people patiently snaking in huge, coiled lines through rows of parked cars - and i found myself blinking back tears. i was completely overwhelmed to be part of something so momentous, with so many other people, who all believed in the same cause so strongly that they brought their children, their toddlers in strollers, and their infants strapped to their backs, to stand outside in the cold for 3 hours in order to hear one man speak to us.

after waiting in line for two hours, a cheer went up from the crowd when obama's police escort turned into the park. there was a sudden surge from the back of the crowd toward the final gate, and all semblance of an orderly line deteriorated rapidly. i found myself pushed up against the fence near the back of the designated "inner" area, and decided to stay there where i had a bit of a view, and knew i could hear well. and then obama climbed the steps to the stage, the crowd went into another frenzy, and once again i found myself surprisingly emotional.

he was great. calm, reassuring, funny, and passionate. he had been in richmond earlier in the day, probably giving the same speech he gave us, that he's had to give 3x a day for the past month, and yet he sounded like he still believed every word, like he was actually excited to be there talking to us.

they're estimating that 35,000 people attended the rally last night. in virginia, which has voted solidly red for the past 44 years. there were a handful of protesters outside the gates (several of whom held signs proclaiming "OBAMA IS NOT PRO-LIFE!" which i found sort of amusing. does anyone think he IS? are there all these pro-life obama supporters who were waiting for someone to open their eyes to his real beliefs, so they could run gratefully to mccain?) but compared to 35k obama supporters.... they didn't make much of a dent. especially considering this was the much more common sight throughout leesburg, at least yesterday:

*if you are in california, PLEASE consider voting NO on prop 8. need convincing? read these posts that lookydaddy linked to. you can click here to donate, whether you're in california or not.


  1. I would have gone with you!!! I would be so interested to hear him speak live.

    I read this article in the New Yorker. It's a bit of a long one but really good: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2008/10/13/081013taco_talk_editors

  2. i live in california, and no on 8 is near and dear to my heart...we're doing all we can to make sure it fails.

  3. wow, i'm glad you were so moved by it all and that you went.

    good pics!

  4. I'm so glad you linked to the NO on Prop 8 blog entries - now I have another one that you must read, because it's funny and intelligent and written by my best friend. I also have a link to it on my facebook page, which you can feel free to post on your page. Here's the link: http://house-made.com/?p=317

    It's funny that you got emotional and totally didn't expect it. I always do that when they play the national anthem at sporting events. Don't know why, but I get all teary...

    Oh, and one more thing. Your comment about the girls was HILARIOUS.

  5. Alice,

    If given the chance, would you sleep with Obama?

  6. I'm so jealous that you went. I wanted to go, but stupid work + no car = not there. But it looks awesome.

  7. Well, poo! You were 30 minutes from me and didn't even call.
    I didn't go (something about family obligations, homework, after school activities, etc.) but my neighbor who works in Leesburg went. She kept saying how exciting it was to be there.