Sunday, November 2, 2008

Change the world

With only 48 hours until the polls open at 7am on Tuesday morning the well oiled machine that is Pennsylvania for Change has sprung into action.
Our exhausted field officers, Ken, Katie and Ryan have organised teams of volunteers to knock on the door of every Obama supporter in Northampton County and remind them to get out to vote.
Door hangers exhorting voters to make their mark on November 4th are being hung on every front door, just in case someone, somewhere, has forgotten that Tuesday is decision day.
Supporters drop by with boxes of bran muffins and cheese crackers. Phones ring off the hook, literature piles up alongside Google maps of canvassing routes and Obama stickers and in a few hours time Caroline Kennedy, daughter of that most iconic of Presidents, Jack Kennedy will drop by to wish everyone good luck.
An air of quiet determination pervades the office. The polls still predict an Obama win in Pennsylvania, with the margin of victory ranging from seven to ten per cent, but nothing is being taken for granted.
The word victory doesn’t pass anyone’s lips. Memories of the 2000 election and those hanging chads that robbed Al Gore of victory are still too fresh in most Democrats’ minds.
“We are not going to let up until the polls close at 8pm, and if the campaign needs us, we will hit the phones out west, their polls don’t close until 11 pm our time” Ken tells us.
We all nod in agreement. We are here to do what we are told - all of us - from Rob, who works part time in a Bethlehem bookstore to Martha, a film technician from downtown New York.
Martha’s job is to co-ordinate the out of state volunteers. “Where do you think I should put this guy?” she asks. “He has a car, will work right through to election day and is happy to do anything.”
He ends up in the same area as me. I am in the Hellertown area that has some nine thousand voters. It is a socially mixed community, just like Edinburgh Pentlands where I cut my political teeth – blue collar workers in town and very large, very beautiful homes in the countryside surrounding it.
But just as the Labour Party in 1997 successfully targeted all voters, from hard-core supporters to disillusioned Tories, so Obama’s campaign has broad based appeal.
Last Tuesday morning I was lucky enough to hear him make his solemn promise to unite America at a rally in Chester, on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
It was one of the wet, wet days, when the rain and wind chill you to the bone, but the thousands of people who stood cheerfully in line for two hours shrugged off the weather.
Young black teenagers in hoodies chatted, probably for the first time in their lives to middle-aged, middle class white women in North Face jackets, as together, we waited to hear the man who promises to change this country for good.
It was worth risking pneumonia.
He stood before us, bare-headed in the rain, his deep, rich voice resonating across the sports field as he wove his compelling story for change.
He ended with this call to action: “if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this – we will not just win Pennsylvania, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world.”
Senator John McCain was due to speak the same morning in Pennsylvania, but cancelled because of the rain. Think about it, who would you vote for?

1 comment:

The City Walker said...

Go Barry Obama. Well done! hope you had fun. See you soon.