The population of St. Louis, Missouri is estimated to be just above three hundred fifty thousand. Well over a hundred thousand people turned out to see Senator Barack Obama yesterday. That’s a ratio of almost one out of three city residents. This was Mr. Obama’s largest stateside rally to date. And what’s even more remarkable is that Missouri is one of the more conservative of states. The fact that Mr. Obama can get such a massive welcome here of all places is a true turn of political events.
With each and every passing day I’m realizing more and more just how massive the Obama phenomenon is becoming. However, I have to admit to some reservation to any thought that this political race is in the bag.
I’m the guy that thought George Bush would never become president. As governor, the way he screwed Texas over with his tax, environmental, justice, and other policies would be more than enough to prove he’s unfit to run the country. And Al Gore was riding President Bill Clinton’s coattails and popularity. Yeah there was that Lewinsky thing going on. Mr. Gore wanted to distance himself from his mentor and, at the same time, probably took the presidency for granted. My jaw dropped like a smart bomb over Baghdad when Mr. Bush got enough votes to give the Supreme Court the ability to decide the election in his favor.
This didn’t happen once. My jaw did a double take when in 2004 Mr. Bush earned enough votes to put into question the results in Ohio so he could get some other Republican bureaucrat to anoint him the winner of the election. If Mr. Obama is going to win, people will need to turn out in his favor in ubber droves.
I saw bits and pieces of the Democratic National Convention and the standing room only crowd in a stadium that can seat upwards of eighty five thousand people while the Republican National Convention was held in a fifteen thousand seat arena that had plenty of seats left. Yet, I’m supposed to believe that shortly after both conventions were done, with Sarah Palin at his side, Senator John McCain was leading in the polls.
I was watching the Daly Show when Jon Stewart was talking about the bias of a FOX News article where the reporter was in a fast food restaurant asking people if they planned to vote for Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain. Nobody raised their hand for Mr. McCain. Practically everybody raised their hand for Mr. Obama. The reporter actually turned to the camera and said that the unofficial poll was too close to call. These people are going to try and play this horse race close to the wire to the very end. It is going to take an overwhelming tsunami of voter turn out to put this presidential race to rest for people who truly want to see this country go in a new direction.
It would be hard for a conservative bureaucrat in Missouri to see a rally of a hundred thousand people showing up at a rally for Mr. Obama and think that he or she can manipulate the system in a fashion that would make the contest more questionable. A thousand voters might be able to be dismissed through some database of addresses or through some form of intimidation that might make people believe that they will be jeopardizing their eligibility for a government sponsored program.
But when you have such a surprisingly large number of people turning out to have their voice added to the rest of the throngs that came out to help represent the support for Mr. Obama as well as their opposition to what Mr. McCain represents.
It was fitting that this new chapter in the presidential race happened under the Gateway Arch at the Jefferson Memorial. I’ve always recognized the Gateway Arch as a symbol of the future. The location was where Lewis and Clarke embarked on their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. It’s one of those places very symbolic as a turning point in America’s history.
Mr. Obama shows up in the Republican’s backyard and has his largest rally to date in the country. More and more people are stepping forward and saying that change will not be denied. The past eight years may have taught us something about our responsibility to the future and our duty to step forward for what we feel is our best hope. After this, I’m feeling better about our chance for change than I’ve ever felt during this entire campaign.