Two of those people actually came from my uterus, and the other one is this man:
And, yes, I took that photo my own self. And, yes, I'm still a little delirious about it.
Early on a wintry, February Saturday, Senator Obama spoke to a crowd of about 15,000 here in Boise. Our arena was full, the fullest it has ever been, filled to rafters with people and more spilling out into all the hallways. Outside, between 3,000 and 4,000 people stood in the bitter cold, unable to get in.
I can't adequately explain how it felt to be at this rally. I live in a state that is overwhelmingly conservative, so conservative that national Democratic candidates never campaign here, let alone personally visit for an impromptu rally open to the general public. When you live and work and worship and raise children in a place where you often feel markedly different from the majority, it has a way of wearing you down, little bit by little bit. Sometimes, you feel like a misfit, a malcontent, or a weirdo. Bit by bit, your spirit is dampened, your tongue quieted, and your vague hopelessness becomes startlingly comfortable.
Saturday, as I looked around the arena, watching thousands, literally thousands, of people pour in through every door, feeling their heat and energy and rumblings, my eyes welled up. Who'd have imagined this? Who could have guessed?, we asked again and again. Certainly not I.
Here's a hobbled-together view of one small portion of the crowd:
I have never seen anything like it, truly.
As to the speech, I won't go into much detail because 1) Obama covered his standard platform and talking points, 2) he was every bit as charming and eloquent as you've heard and 3) this is not a political blog.
But, if this were a political blog, I would tell you this: I am re-energized and filled with a cautious, tender hope. I know the nay-sayers and pundits enjoy criticizing Obama for appealing to nebulous things like hope and change and empowerment, but let me say: this man speaks with conviction and honesty and a generosity of spirit that is truly rare among politicians. And, above all, this is a man who makes me dare to believe in the potential greatness of this nation and the unrealized power of its people. I believe him to be not just a good candidate with a sound platform, but a great man, capable of making a clean and emphatic break from the cronyism, cynicism, deception and special interests that have marked the most recent chapters of American history.
I am hoping against hopes that I will have the opportunity to vote for this candidate on Tuesday, in November, and, hopefully, in a distant November that exists in a better America, in a better world.
And I refuse to feel bad about hoping.
(Full photo set over here.)