Last night my family attended Obama’s final campaign rally, held here in Virginia. The rally turned out to be a little more involved than I had thought. Getting 100,000 people in a rural fairground will do that. After an hour creeping along the one road in, we pulled into a neighborhood, parked the car, and walked the rest of the way. Two miles. Inside, we waited an extra ninety minutes beyond the scheduled start time for Obama to speak. Afterwards, we had to take baby steps with the tightly packed crowd to get out of the fairground and then, at midnight, walk the two miles back to our car. Along the way we saw that drivers had simply abandoned their vehicles all along the road to the venue. Cars were on the shoulders, the paved walkway, even the median strip as far as we walked and beyond.
The verdict is out on whether we were in “real” Virginia at the time. Driving to Manassas, we saw signs proclaiming the area “McCain Country.” Inside the rally, however, I saw the real America that I know in the variety of people and colors and cultures. There on the fairgrounds all people black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, Muslim, young, old were doing the same thing. Trying to see Obama through the freakin’ blinding lights focused out on the audience.
His speech wasn’t new, but it was inspirational. Even though we were cold and tired, it was exciting to be there with my family making history. But perhaps most important for me in looking around at this diverse crowd was the validation of an inclusive politics. This is where we belong. Change is coming. Hope is here.