It's the eve of the primary to potentially (but probably not) end all primaries, and Dallas is experiencing serious election fervor. My drive to work carried me past a crowd of Hillary supporters waving signs in a cold rain, and our local news is now updating polls on a daily basis. In honor of all of this, the time has come to blog about the excitement and give the official Knapp Adventure Blog endorsement (which I assume will eventually be featured on one of the campaign ads being shown with regularity rivaling the pharmaceutical industry).
Our best taste of the intensity of the election came two weeks ago when Megan and I decided we'd head down to Reunion Arena to attend a rally by Barack Obama, the candidate now Officially Endorsed by the Knapp Adventure Blog. The event was scheduled to start around noon, so we planned to arrive when doors opened at 10:30. This was just naive.
Obama has reached rock star status, and the crowd was something one would expect for the Rolling Stones. I took the DART train from the office and quickly realized that the packed train was already full of folks attending the rally. I found Megan somewhere near the stadium, and we noted the hordes before attempting to find the end of the line.
So we walked and walked. The line wrapped around the arena and then a block away to a parking garage entrance. Then the line snaked through the first level of the parking garage and up four more levels. After 20 minutes of walking we reached the end of the line.
To quote the great thinker, Eric Cartman, "Lines, lines--I hate lines!" But something was different here. First, the weather was cool, so terrible memories of sweating in line at various theme parks did not arise. Second, everyone was happy to be there. I expected grumpy faces, impatient huffing, sarcastic commentary, and a general state of agitation. The crowd seemed thrilled to be standing in a parking garage. Most of us opined that the line stretched far too long for us to possibly make it into the arena and actually hear the speech, but that didn't matter. We waited, and we waited happily. Then the third observation, this had to be the most diverse crowd I had ever joined. It was like a quintessentially American version of It's A Small World (another time I stood in lines, lines, lines!). I saw all races, ages, shapes and sizes, hipsters and punks and goths, corporate types and retired folk, hetero homo trans and metrosexuals. I could not conceive of a demographic that was not represented in that line. And that's when I knew that Obama was really onto something.
And so, one big happy family of Texans, we waited and waited. After a half hour or so the line began creeping forward ever so slowly. A few steps at time, we walked over a mile through that garage, snaking down toward the rally. But time kept passing, and, as noon arrived, we were nowhere near the entrance to the arena. The motorcade flew by the garage, and we wondered whether that would be our closest encounter with the candidate.
Megan looked up to me, "Should we go get some barbeque and go back to work?"
"No, Megan, we have to have the audacity to hope."
Eyes were rolled, eavesdroppers chuckled, and we kept on waiting. And soon enough, we were moving quickly and then more quickly. Eventually campaign volunteers were encouraging us to hurry "but not run," so we picked up the pace, passing people who had spent most of their energy just standing. We rushed toward the prize, which, in this case, turned out to be two seats in the lower earth orbit but still barely within Reunion Arena. We had made it, and the rally could continue.
We watched former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk give a rousing introduction followed by Emmit Smith, who gave a more exciting introduction. Finally, Barack himself arrived on stage, and we were all quite impressed despite his headcold. Alas, the wait was worthwhile.
Now a number of folks have asked me why I support Obama--whether it is the result of whether I love hoping for hope to change the lack of hope and then receive more hope. I have few skeptics offer anything more tangible than these superficial criticisms, but occasionally folks come up with something more substantial.
More recently I was given an exact dollar total of what Obama's policies would cost me in immediately higher taxes. The purveyor of this information then asked me how, oh how!, could I possibly support this fellow knowing an exact and gargantuan amount of cash that would be ripped from my pockets.
Here is the way we think about it at the Knapp Adventure Blog. I think we look at the world with a drastically different notion of time and self-interest. The policies of the past decades, from both sides of the aisle, focus pretty carefully on the short term. It is short-term thinking that gave us a plan to pay everyone in the country roughly $300, an unnecessary fit of deficit spending with likely no net economic benefit. It is short-term thinking that prompted us to invade Iraq with no real prospect for stabilizing the country. It is short-term thinking that has caused widespread environmental devastation with untold future harms.
And we do pay for this type of thinking. Of course, my taxes may be lower, but I pay more in health insurance to compensate for uninsured people who are forced to eek out some semblance of health care through emergency room visits. Someday I will pay a huge sum to educate my children. I will pay throughout the years, stashing away money to care for my health and my living when I can no longer work. I will pay in unimaginable ways for our misguided environmental policies (global warming aside, I'm concerned about our water resources, especially if ethanol becomes our future).
Obama cannot solve all of these problems. Actually, he supports ethanol production (but at least he addresses CAFOs in his policy, something Hillary ignores). He does not have a plan for universal college education, and his health care plan will not create some sort of Scandinavian utopia in this country.
But his policies take us closer, even if just a little. Unlike Hillary, a divisive figure and continuation of this absurd American Aristocracy (two families ruling for 24 to 28 years?), I believe he can accomplish his goals, and, in exchange for a surrender of tax dollars, he offers to end the war, to make sure my money is headed toward the greater societal good instead of some great global futility. The mindset of the short-term assumes individuals can better manage resources than the government. For many individuals, this is certainly true, but everybody pays somehow for the rest of society's failings in various, less obvious ways. It's time we come up with a better fix that leaves us all a bit better off. Obama won't accomplish much of this, but he's the best start in that direction.
So there is the endorsement. If he loses the nomination, our backup option is Ron Paul (anti-war and delightfully anti-ethanol . . . after that it gets a bit strange). If he can't get the nomination, then we'll find ourselves facing yet another November walking toward the ballot box wondering why we're choosing between two jokers. Let's hope we'll be getting to vote for Obama. That'd definitely be worth waiting in line.