DENVER – It was an evening of loud roars, tears, great music, and poignant speeches. It was Barack Obama’s night at Mile High and he, as well as everybody else in and around that stadium, was a mile high in Denver.
Carlos, Anne, Plum TV’s Jeb Berrier, and I started our journey toward mile high early in the day. In the previous three days of the convention in Denver there had been a lot going on in the streets. Protesters, vendors, screaming activists, voter registration groups had all swarmed the Denver streets all week, but on Thursday the streets were even more hectic than what they had been. I think they even shut down the free 16th Street Mall Ride down around noon on Thursday because there were just too many people down there. Excitement was in the air, history was about to be made at the home of the Denver Broncos.
The line of people to get into the stadium was outrageous. Close to 75,000 people had gathered to enter into venue where everyone must go through strict security screenings. (And I thought the lines at DIA were long.) Jeb and Anne were set to sit in a different section than Carlos and I, so we took our separate ways to find a seat for the seven-or-so-hour-long historic and political show, where even a good number of fat-cat Republicans couldn’t turn their carp-like eyes away from.
Yonder Mountain String Band opened the day’s performances up. They gave me the nostalgic feeling of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and here they were to play for the most talked about Presidential candidate of my time. Stevie Wonder. Another great (maybe even better than the first) speech by Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden. Al Gore, who didn’t just harp on climate change, pounded out another great speech for the convention. He looked and sounded as good behind the podium as he ever has. He seemed angry from the last election – angry that the country is in downhill slide in every subject. Like James Brown, he was mad.
“Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them,” Gore said. “Hey, I believe in recycling, but that’s ridiculous.” It is ridiculous, for sure. I still can’t believe so many young people haven’t opened their eyes to this notion yet. Ridiculous.
Gore, now a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was perfectly cynical against the Republican machine that is killing the troops of this nation along with the planet and the economy. The evening and excitement wore on.
Six speeches by everyday Americans that made some people sitting near us cry – and sometimes cry with a good bit of laughter. No, these weren’t celebrities telling us what they think we should know. They were pet shop owners from the East Coast. Plant workers. The real thread of America. They were former republicans who voted for Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II and have now changed sides because they have seen the destruction. They were there to support what I see is good over the money-grubbing evil.
Obama Takes the Stage, Not as Celebrity But as a Man of the People
Finally, our celebrity (since when did a celebrity become a bad thing McCain? Give me a break.) of the evening, the man we were all so grateful to see the night before at Biden’s speech, Obama hit the stage and hit the audience and America with a natural, easy spoken speech that will defiantly be talked about for decades to come. (Anybody ever remember George W.’s acceptance speech? Right. I don’t either.)
He spoke to us not as a celebrity as McCain has said in the past. Obama spoke to us as equals. As someone who really cares. He knows what the people want and are feeling. He knows what people are feeling. McCain, he doesn’t even know what a middle-American makes in a year along with how many homes he owns.
This evening was all Obama. I watched an elderly black man get his picture taken in front of me. He kept stopping the photographer because he couldn’t keep is eyes dry enough to take the photo with the stage behind him. After about three takes, the man was able to hold is emotions long enough to be photographed – probably the most touching moment I had seen that evening.
And I liked the way Obama laid out his platform is a very simple way. He spoke to us all like fellow Americans. Republicans speak to Republicans.
“Let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president,” he said.
“I will eliminate capitol gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high tech jobs of tomorrow…
“I will cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class…
“I will set a clear goal as President, in 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
He spoke clearly and decisively. I have never heard this kind of speech from the other winning politicians. This man is setting forth lofty goals to win the Presidency and is doing so with a sense of certainty that has and will be unmatched by McCain. He wants to make America better. I also like his humility and ability to at least look at compromise.
“We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country…
“The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
I mean really, finally someone that gets it. There is no one answer on these highly debatable issues, but compromise – compromise that makes a difference – isn’t just a lip service.
When the Obama family and the Biden family were joined together on stage after the speech, I could see American people again. They weren’t warmongers, oil executives, pharmaceutical lobbyists or downright criminals like Cheney and Karl Rove, they were Americans, just like the 75,000 people that were there with tears in their eyes. There is a light at the end of this dark time in America and it is so, so important to keep the snakes from the Republican Party out of the White House, no matter what political shenanigans they decide to pull.
As I said before going into this convention and looking at it with a bit of retrospect, I was going in uncertain if I was ready to take that leap of faith and support Barack Obama. His experience had me worried when he faced Hillary Clinton. Now, four days later, Obama, and those who spoke on his behalf, have taken that leap of faith fear away. He is experienced and he does embody the change this country needs. Like I said before, I know which way Dick Cheney…uhh…I mean John McCain wants to go. It’s nowhere. He is settled with the way things are right now. I, for one (and I think 75,000 people can agree), am tired of stupidity and The Man running this country.
I am also so, so excited that McCain decided to shake up the GOP with his choice for Vice President in some last-minute desperate act to save his party. Yes, he hit a homerun for the Democrats with this one…but that will be for another time.