Rep. John Lewis of Georgia: "We have witnessed a nonviolent revolution, a revolution of ideas.” (Election eve)
In all the magic and excitement of yesterday, there were three things that really stood out for me.
The energy, enthusiasm, happiness and optimism that shone on the faces of young people was awe-inspiring. There were little kids running around Operation Breakthrough chanting Obama’s name. There were teenagers making last minute phone calls at Obama headquarters. There were legions of twenty and thirty somethings organizing get-out-the-vote centers and working at the polls. Amid the throngs of cheering supporters at Grant’s Park were young people of all ages, shouting and jumping up and down, and when Obama spoke, their faces were turned up toward him, bathed in a light of honest to goodness hope.
The fact that people came together was awe-inspiring. Following Obama’s lead, his supporters worked side by side, relishing their differences of skin color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation and economic status.
The sense of power, confidence and pride that I saw in the eyes of the mothers and grandmothers who live in poverty and who were escorted to the polls by volunteers at Operation Breakthrough was awe-inspiring. Some 342,000 people in Missouri cast their ballots for the very first time ever yesterday. I know of people who registered and escorted adults who can’t read, who feared they would not understand the wording of the ballot, who were afraid to show their identification to the election officials, who weren’t sure where to go to vote or who were fearful they might be fired if they took time off from work to vote. We all know these people deserve a voice; in this election, they were offered the opportunity to speak.
(I drove one of these 342,000 new voters to the polls. At forty-four, Kim was bursting at the seams to cast her vote for Obama. When I asked her why she had never voted before, she simply said she had been waiting all these years for the right candidate to come along. She held her head high and threw her shoulders back as she marched into the polling place. When she emerged, she flashed a huge grin and pointed to the “I Voted” sticker she had just planted on her chest. When we got back to the car, she reached in and pulled out the t-shirt she had been waiting to put on. I snapped a picture of her showing it off. In the golden light of a glorious Kansas City autumn afternoon, I saw a human being coming into her own – maybe even a slight glimpse of a country beginning to come into its own.)
I woke up this morning feeling like I was greeting not just a new day, but also the start of better things to come. I look forward to receiving my emails from Obama telling me what else I can do to contribute to this revolution of ideas.