Yes We Can, and Yes We Did!

Well, as I said I would, I am planning to use this blog entry to communicate my experiences last week in Pennsylvania. For those of you who don’t know, I travelled to Pennsylvania last Monday, November 3 and stayed throughout the presidential election to campaign for Senator Barack Obama, soon to be President Barack Obama. It was one of the most inspirational experiences of my life.

Monday was mostly made up of the bus ride. We left Oswego at approximately 9:30 a.m. and got to Pittsburgh at around 6 p.m. We then canvassed, which involved separating into groups and travelling to staging locations. The one I went to was right in Pittsburgh. We were given flyers which said to vote for Obama tomorrow, 11/4, addresses and directions to get to those addresses. We then walked around neighborhoods and posted these flyers on doors, encouraging those registered to vote to go vote and to vote for Obama.

That evening was then followed by a powerful and inspirational pep rally. The night didn’t end until 2 a.m., as I then participated in an event called Midnight Madness, in which I posted posters, flyers and stickers around the Pittsburgh University campus encouraging students to vote and to vote for Obama. This is a bit off topic here and seemingly random, but I really loved Pittsburgh University. It was so beautiful and just seemed like that perfect image of college life and the way I had always imagined it when I was younger. It honestly caused me to consider it as a graduate school.

Tuesday then called for a 7:00 a.m. wake up call, so running on about 3 and a half hours of sleep, I canvassed once again, this time in Washington, Pennsylvania. This was a bit of a culture shock to me, because it was so foreign and different from what I am used to. Washington is a large city with many, many buildings that are very, very close together, and walking around it trying to find homes wasn’t the most exhilerating part of the trip. We then travelled to Uniontown, which, as we were told, is about forty miles outside of the border of Maryland. This town seemed to be more Conservative, as we came across a large number of McCain/Palin signs and also received a large number of hostile facial expressions from people who had obviously made note of what we were doing.

Before leaving Uniontown, I phonebanked for approximately an hour. This involved receiving a long list of telephone and cell phone numbers and calling them to ensure that each household who was registered to vote had voted or was intending to vote and that they had voted for Obama or were intending to vote for Obama. The staging location was even willing to provide transporation for those who wanted to vote but had no way of getting to the polls. This made me feel productive and made me feel like I was doing my share to voice my opinion in ways that would actually matter statistically.

After a long and dedicated day, it was now time to party. On the ride back to Pittsburgh to attend the campaign party, it had been announced on the radio that Obama had won Pennsylvania. This was, needless to say, quite something for us to hear, because we all knew in our hearts that we had made a difference and that we had had something to do with this victory. I could feel it in mine, and I knew that everyone else could too. The party consisted of guest speakers getting the very, very large crowd of people excited and in anticipation as we watched CNN while it aired the election’s final moments. At around 11 p.m., CNN showed that there was only about a minute left until the final polls closed, and when it got to zero seconds remaining, the crowd said in unison, “1…2…3!” and magically, at 3, BARACK OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT was presented on the screen as the entire room applauded, cheered, screamed and threw its arms up into the air. I cannot recall any moment in my life that I had been happier than at that moment. Not only had I been waiting for this for so long, but I knew I had played a role in it and that all of our hard work had paid off.

When we got on the bus at around midnight, the noise and the excitement was not quieted until the radio show we were listening to broadcasted Obama’s victory speech, which we listened to in its entirety. Of course, Obama has always been an excellent public speaker, as his campaign has proven time and time again, but I guarantee that that speech will go down as one the most powerful in history. I would think that the opening would be the most difficult, and he even nailed that. “For those wondering whether America can accomplish anything, tonight is your answer.” Listening to the speech increased my inspiration and feeling of confidence, if that was even possible, because I kept thinking, “this guy is going to be our president.”

We had made history. This election, which had in store so many groundbreaking elements which made it historic, was my very first election, and I had done more than just vote. I had actually participated in it and campaigned for it, and I had made a difference. I have, as you can probably imagine, suffered a great deal of persecution from McCain supporters and Republicans, having been told that I helped a Socialist win the American presidency and that I helped activate a blind motivation amongst millions who couldn’t even tell you why they were planning to vote for Obama, but what’s nice about living in a Democracy is that they have the liberal right to feel that way and to even voice it, and I feel that by doing what I did last week, I helped preserve that right that all of us have.

Teamsters eagerly awaiting our chance to make a difference:

Teamsters!

Staging location in Washington:

Staging location

Staging location:

I Need You!

Doorknob flyers that we distributed in Uniontown:

Vote Obama today!

Campaign party:

Campaign party!

VICTORY!:

Oh, yes we did!

As close to meeting the great one as we got:

The great one himself

Although I took most of them, I didn’t take all of these photos, and I therefore feel that it would be appropriate to make note of this so that it doesn’t appear to anyone as if I am attempting to take credit for what isn’t mine. Some of these were taken by acquaintances that went on the trip as well. I had the unfortunate experience of having the camera that I was using stolen, but I suppose that you have to have something bad happen to you in order to undergo such an amazing experience!

About the Author

Hey, I'm Christopher. I am currently a graduate student in the SUNY Oswego English program, and I am also a Desk Attendant in Sheldon Hall (where I am also living). I graduated with two degrees in May 2012 - English and Adolescence Education with a Concentration in English. I substitute-taught in Rome City School District fall 2012 and then came back to school in January 2013 in order to obtain a masters degree in English, which I plan to obtain in May 2014. I love to read, and I love TV shows, especially science-fiction and fantasy.
Email: ccook@oswego.edu
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