Late Late Night FDL: After the Party
Just back from Obama Headquarters where I was credentialled to cover the returns and speech. I’m guessing everyone watched the speech and I know everyone’s been tracking the returns. So instead, I wanted to say a bit about the people I spent the evening with.
I was in the “press file” room … where all the working press eat bad sandwiches surrounded by massive TV screens and hope there’s a story to tell before the evening is out. The buzz was definitely “delegate” counts rather than state wins … perhaps everyone has been reading Chris Bowers? And while the folks from the press bus popped in and out, it was more interesting to see all the international reporters making sense of the truly byzantine American primary map. My favorite was one Japanese reporter who got more excited each time the crowd yelled louder – his cameraman was having a hard time keeping him in frame!
Then there were the staffers and volunteers – and as firepups know these are the real heroes of all campaigns. I certainly had flashbacks to the Lamont primary night as I watched them balance their enthusiasm with the hard work of keeping a big crowd sorted out. Two wonderful young guys were stationed at the press door – they had been there since 11:30 in the morning and yet kept the smiles and jokes going. This was a well run, well organized primary night and the friendly style of the staff and volunteer crew was a great example of campaigns done well.
The crowd itself was an pretty amazing mix of folks – all ages, races and styles – all cheering for a vision of unity and change. With each state won, the sound got louder – and when states were lost, there was a lot of instant analysis … folks tracking percentages and making guesses on delegate counts … it felt like a savvy crowd of folks who knew the night would not be decisive but merely a part of a very long race. It was refreshing after all the hype of “super Tuesday.”
And of course, there was Obama. We all know that he knows how to give a speech – but the interaction of supporters and candidate was really impressive. His focus was not on the race but about the work “we” need to do going forward – there was an inclusiveness and tone, a choice of language and atmosphere that reminded me more of a good “organizer” than the “rock star” candidate – something that’s hard to sense through the tv screen. The biggest cheers came when he spoke of opposing the war, torture and threats to Iran – and when he spoke about defeating the lobbyists’ power in DC.
Amongst all the numbers and percentages and maps, I was continually reminded of the work we all try to do across the FDL community. And our work is not so much about one candidate or another but the dedication of regular folks who show up, who staff the press door and go out doorknocking and hit the phones – and the power of people coming together to work for change after the dark days of George Bush. Whichever candidate you support, I think we can all be proud and inspired by the people I saw tonight … and remember that progressive change is “a very long race” that depends on us all to say “yes we can.”