On Monday, I went to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s rally at the Hartford Civic Center. The week previous, I had seen his rival Hillary Clinton at the Learning Corridor. She spoke to a small crowd of a couple thousand at most, but Obama was speaking at a venue ten fold the size of Hillary’s. I opted to drive into downtown, because the weather was rather damp and cold. It was a Monday night, after rush hour, and I was expecting there to be at least a few parking spaces. Driving into downtown, I realized I was quite wrong, as I had to hunt for even a parking garage that did not have a long line.
Upon parking my car, I started walking to the Hartford Civic Center, only two blocks away. I was excited. I had gotten a good parking space, and was about to see one of America’s freshest icons do what he does best: deliver a speech. Being a fan of the spoken word, I understood the power one voice can have, if given the attention. Once I got to the center, I noticed that many others were also determined to give Obama their attention. In fact, the line snaked around the entire block twice, every person waiting to hear Obama.
It was cold, drizzling, and I was not anywhere near the front of the line. After a few crafty maneuvers and joining some friends from Trinity, I expedited my entrance to the center. Once in the arena, I saw that there was much more seating than the line suggested. I got a seat high to Obama’s left, certainly not close, but better than the line outside. Some sections had been closed off, but the event staff soon opened up the closed sections, as people poured into the arena. Every seat was occupied, over ten thousand people, within half of an hour. I began to think I was at a rock concert, not a presidential candidate’s rally.
Congressmen John B. Larson and Chris Murphy were the first to speak. They were terrible. Good thing Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro followed them, she delivered a great speech. Ted Kennedy spoke, as well. Ted impressed me for an elderly man. He was very powerful and charismatic. Caroline Kennedy had just come in from the red-eye that morning, and she spoke like it. She was given the responsibility of introducing Barack Obama.
Ending Caroline’s murmurs, Obama stepped onto the floor. The crowd had been enthusiastic all night, doing the wave many times to keep them occupied and starting various chants in the spirit of change and hope, but they erupted with the sight of Obama. It took a considerable many minutes just for the crowd to calm enough for his voice to be heard.
He was the embodiment of charisma and poise. He was genuine and refined. He was dynamic and exciting, sure and soothing. I had heard that he was the new JFK. Some said he was their savior. A skeptic, I brushed it all off. I had already cast my absentee ballot in his favor. I had no need to be persuaded or influenced. I don’t get excited and I hold my emotions at bay, a divided family has honed me so. But Obama, for a priceless hour, made me feel whole as I have not for a long time. This was more than a campaign and more than race. Ten thousand people with every ounce of attention being given to one person, and from that attention came something I would never imagine for a presidential candidate – trust.
Leaving the arena, I was a different person. He made me more than hope, he made me believe. If he is given the opportunity, I believe we can change the country, the world, and set the standard much higher for the presidents to come.