Enthusiasm Gap? What Enthusiasm Gap?

Photo: Al Strange

I didn’t see one demoralized Democrat at the University of Southern California’s Alumni Park on Friday as 37,500 of President Obama’s admirers stood for hours to hear him rally the base for November’s midterm elections. The corporate-controlled media with its relentless parade of polls is predicting a Democratic bloodbath. But the audience was reminded that the most important poll is the one on Election Day.

My mom, sister and I rose early to catch the bus to USC at just after 7:30 am to arrive sometime before the gates opened at 10 am (driving was not an option, for obvious reasons). I heard some Obama fans had arrived as early as 2 or 3 am — no doubt many of them students who probably camped out overnight. When we arrived at the campus just before 9 am, several thousand people were already in a line that snaked around several blocks. Obama’s rock star status was on full display. Not only was the event part political revival, but billed as the world’s longest phonebank, as fresh-faced volunteers cheerily handed out lists of voters for people waiting in line to call. Smart use of passing the time away.

Once past the airport-like security, we stepped into a festive atmosphere inside the park. A large, blue “America Moving Forward” banner stretched across the stage, above bleachers reserved for a select group of USC students and VIPs to sit and wave signs. Although the program started at just after noon, the man himself wouldn’t appear until about 2 pm. Until then, the crowd had to content itself with standing through a medley of speeches by various USC student leaders, celebrities and politicos, in addition to musical performances by a middle school choir, the USC Trojan marching band, and L.A.-based rock/rap/Latin fusion band Ozomatli. But each name called that wasn’t Obama’s elicited some moans from the crush of people surrounding me.

Among the other speakers were L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, California Assembly Speaker John Perez, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Attorney General Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer, former actor and now Obama staffer Kal Penn (House, Harold and Kumar movies) and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx. Some speeches were more scintillating than others, but the overall theme was to galvanize Democrats, especially young Democrats, to show up at the polls. Foxx, whose memorable performance as Ray Charles won him the Academy Award, was especially lively as an emcee. The actor stood at the podium with his phone to record the crowd reaction for his Twitter page, while at the same time leading them in a chant of “We not exhausted!” a reference to a woman who told Obama at a recent town hall that she was tired of defending him. Foxx’s impromptu use of social media was certainly a 21st century moment.

Just before Boxer introduced the President, the atmosphere was electric with anticipation. Obama walked out to a roar of screams and cheers, multitudes of blue “America Moving Forward” signs, and thousands of upraised hands frantically shooting pictures. In his typical easygoing style, Obama appeared sans jacket, wearing a blue tie and the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up. This was my first time seeing Obama live. Actually, it was my first time seeing any U.S. president in person. I could only get intermittent glimpses of him through the forest of bobbing heads in front of me, but that was thrilling enough. Next to me, a young woman, shorter than myself, had to hop up on her toes to catch a view. She squealed with delight each time she got a peek of the commander in chief.

The Speech was signature Obama: filled with flashes of humor, fiery rhetoric against the Republicans, and fist-pumping calls to Democrats to “knock on some doors” and support the party’s ticket in the election. My limited cell phone camera could only record a few minutes of the Speech, and Obama himself was merely a speck through the lens, but at least I have proof that I Was There. Being a part of Obamamania for just a few minutes was definitely worth standing for five hours amid a sea of bodies so packed that I almost felt claustrophobic. I kept worrying about my 77-year-old mother standing behind me, and I was prepared to lead her out of the crowd if she needed to sit down. Thanks to the fact that she exercises regularly, amazingly, she made it through. She didn’t want to miss a thing.

We all left the rally on a high, fired up and ready to go again. My mom and I have been answering the President’s call to “make some phone calls and knock on some doors,” by volunteering to get out the vote in our neighborhood. To be honest, my feelings about Obama’s presidency has been a roller coaster ride these last two years. It’s like being with someone you love who irritates you from time to time. I’ve disagreed with some of the things he’s done (or not done), and I’ve yelled at him through the television screen, but I still swooned when I saw him. Unlike some of my progressive friends who have fallen out of love, I still count myself a fan.

Sylvia MooreSometimes the ones we love need understanding and time to make things right. Obama has only had less than two years to turn around an economy and society that took the GOP 30 years to destroy. And, he is hamstrung by an archaic, corrupt and dysfunctional political system that desperately needs fundamental structural reform. It will probably take several more Democratic administrations after Obama to undo the damage. Obama needs more time to help the country heal, and he needs more progressive Democrats to push him to do the right thing. It is foolish to abandon him and the Democrats now. Doing so on November 2 would only put us back to where we were during the bad old Bush years.

So vote Democrat on November 2. Hold your nose if you need to, but vote Democrat. And then we can continue to making that change we want into a reality.

To volunteer before and on Election Day, visit here for phonebank and canvassing events near you.

Sylvia Moore

Published by the LA Progressive on October 26, 2010
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About Sylvia Moore

Sylvia Moore is a Los Angeles-area blogger, writer and activist who spent several years as a newspaper reporter in central California. Sylvia has volunteered on behalf of healthcare, media reform and getting money out of politics. She is Second Vice President for the Culver City Democratic Club, a member of the 54th AD Democratic Club, and an elected delegate to the Democratic Party State Central Committee. Sylvia is also a part-time Blog Editor for California OneCare (www.californiaonecare.org), an organization working to pass a universal, single-payer healthcare system in California. In her spare time, Sylvia organizes Los Angeles Progressive Friends (http://www.meetup.com/lAProgressiveFriends/), a social group for L.A.-area liberals. - See more at: http://www.laprogressive.com/author/sylvia-moore/#sthash.8z90JW22.dpuf

Comments

  1. I deleted about 10 graphs because they were mean and vindictive; instead, I decided to let you know I enjoyed the article and leave it that.

  2. For those who preach to the choir – or anyhow always turn up for hours for the privilege of being counted in the choir no matter whether there’s actually an on-key tune being sung – of course there’s no enthusiasm gap.

    Sure, there’s no point to switching or even going neutral, as between spineless Dems and absolutely nutty and evil Gops. But let’s appreciate what the situation actually is.

    Here’s just one illustrative particular. Back in March, Obama ditched the idea of opposing climate change and instead got on the corporate bandwagon for promoting it – and not only through oil-burning but enthusiastically burning the most environmentally dubious oil, from deep-sea drilling. Now his (nominally Salazar’s, but he sticks with Salazar all the way) latest deep-sea drilling ‘moratorium’ has just run out.

    So when we ‘enviros’ (i.e. people who actually want a future for the planet) make a few noises we are anticipatorily denounced for so-called ‘abandonment’ and an ‘enthusisasm gap’.

    In truth, it’s been a case of Dem non-’leaders’ like Obama abandoning us and having no enthusiasm even for their own essentially centrist alleged ‘agenda’ (whatever it has morphed into lately), not vice versa.

  3. Sylvia Moore evidently if for Global One World Order. Which all the banks will be Nationalized into one bank, the Obamacare will be the same socialist government run health care all over the world or I should say in the G20. We will all be under the UN which expects the United States to pay more to these third world countries because we are considered the richest. We will no longer be a capitalist nation and the American Dream is almost gone now but if we go into the Global One World Order is will never be able to be seen again. All small businesses will be destroyed and our children who are beginning to go through indoctrination now and it will become worse. The middle school children and the high school children will be expected to graduate and go directly to work for the government. Our Constitution, which Obama is not preserving or protecting, the Bill of Rights, which is being ignored, the Declaration of Independence which he was quoting the other day an left out the words “OUR CREATOR”. What is so strange is I do not see him saying anything to the American people about Global One World Order, but he goes to Europe and speaks freely of it? It is like he thinks what he does over there does not get back here. Through the bias media most of it doesn’t but you can watch Fox every now and then to get some updates and you can read the BBC and Dutch and Canadian newspapers on the web.
    How many of these people at this gathering belong to Media Matters, who George Soros gave a million dollars to for Obama, how many belonged to the Unions like SEIU and AFL-CIO and the UAW and Acorn, which they have changed their names into other company names, how many might have been paid to be there because AFL-CIO paid a bunch of non-members to protest in New York City for some kind of nonsense last year and how many of them were members of the teachers unions? When you work for a Union, the good workers have to be the ones to make up for what the bad workers won’t and don’t do, even though it is the same job but they cannot be fired. What kind of sense does that make?
    I have never seen Obama go to any Town hall meetings or gatherings like this without the majority of the crowd was sent to be there and make him look good. He has taking over our banks, auto makers, financial institutes, corporations and education. Everything. That is not what the Leader of the Free World does. That is not what he was elected for. So you might like the wealth being spread but I do not. I believe people should keep the money they have and give to charities they want to not who they are told to. I am not rich but I do not want to take the Rich Man’s money unless I have worked for it. I do not want him to be forced to give it to those that do not want to work but want to live off the government. If you do not want to work for your American Dream move to another country that is now going bankrupt trying to live under socialism. I pray that Obama is stopped before he ends up turning us into a third world country.

  4. Citizenrite says:

    WHAT! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! SOMEONE IS WHISTLING SO LOUD THAT I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING!

    And the graveyard is clear across town.

  5. Joe Walsh-Lone Vet says:

    I Am A Progressive?

    Many people say they are progressives, what the hell does that mean, who is a real progressive and what are the very fundamentals that must be present to be considered a progressive?

    My first criteria would include that all human beings are seen as equals and maybe seeing others as brothers and sisters, not in a religious sense but for real. When I look at someone and I see an equal, the relationship may grow, but if I see someone beneath me in any sense of the word the relationship will never bear fruit.

    One of the great progressives who comes to mind was President Teddy Roosevelt, a republican who said:

    “The essential difference, as old as civilized history, is between the men who, with fervor and broad sympathy and imagination, stand for the forward movement, the men who stand for the uplift and betterment of mankind, and who have faith in the people, on the one hand; and, on the other hand, the men of narrow vision and small sympathy, who are not stirred by the wrongs of others. With these latter stand also those other men who distrust the people, and many of whom not merely distrust the people, but wish to keep them helpless so as to exploit them for their own benefit.” (Not much in common with the “T- Baggers”)

    There are many people who claim to be progressive and just make money off the ills of our present circumstances, you know who they are. They are politicians, have radio and TV shows and have never risked anything of real value to bring about change; they just make more money. There are those on the radio and TV who do care about the “Other” and do good work, they are called Cocktail Liberals. This is not meant to be a derogatory term, cocktail liberals do good work and support worthy causes, but almost never risk losing something of great value, like their job or being arrested at a protest, or just being shunned by their peers. They will say the right things so I give them much credit for that and wish them well, but they are not progressives. Tens of thousands who have lost or resigned their jobs because they could not support a system that is corrupted, they are my heroes. I often wonder if it would not be a great and noble thing to do, as a society, to create another memorial in our capital for our heroes who have suffered much in the name of Justice. That would be a place to visit, here would be the names of our present day heroes: Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, Ann Wright, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Bradley Manning, Mike Malloy, there are so many more, but I think you should have a feeling for who my heroes are; they are not cocktail libs, they are real progressives. Is my standard high? Yes and it must remain high because many who claim to be progressive damage the movement by their lack of action. Those who say let’s march on a Saturday because we get more people that way should be in a non-leadership role, they do not believe in the people coming out, taking off work and as long as you don’t expect people to sacrifice they will not—trust in the people is one of the foundations of being a progressive. Protests should take place on Fridays at the height of the rush hour, people should be inconvenienced. Leaders who tell you we must be polite should go and stay on a farm, milk some cows but for all our sakes don’t lead a group of protesters; they should join a committee to run the next big parade, maybe the Easter Parade. Leaders that want to visualize peace should also go to a farm, turn it into a commune and let us know how you are doing every so often, say once a year. But please don’t tell people you have the answer, you don’t. The answer to our problem is like the song, blowing in the wind, because there is no one answer, we have not even started to understand why humans love to kill things. At the end of the day, a progressive has a fundamental love of their fellow humans, will sacrifice for someone they don’t even know, will tell people they are wrong, and will laugh and celebrate the goodness that humans so often display. This is an essay of great hope, not the politician’s kind of hope, but the real kind—the common hope of all people.

    http://progparty.org/

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