Having attended the kickoff rally, C. and I (and somewhere between 80,000 and 90,000 other people) decided to attend the final rally last night in Manassas. Trafficocalypse! Even with taking the sneaky back way out 29 and avoiding the nearly-parked traffic on 66 West, it took almost two hours to get the 13 miles from home to the fairgrounds and find a place to park; there were so many people that we ended up having to circle back and park 2.5 miles away in a residential neighborhood--counting myself lucky to find even that--and walk, arriving at the fairgrounds near 10 PM. Luckily for us, Obama was running about 90 minutes late and so we were there when he took the stage. On the way in, there were a small group of anti-abortion protesters who may have been yelling at us baby-killing infidels although I couldn't hear them over the crowd of people heading in to the rally, and a guy holding a sign saying "Socialism is not the answer." I wanted to ask him what the question was: "What's the square root of -3?" "Socialism?" Hey, you're right, that isn't
the answer. Or maybe it was wrong because it should've been phrased in the form of a question, I don't know.
Leah Miller comments over at Making Light
with her experience, which pretty much matches mine. The speech was okay; he's clearly tired and affected by the loss of his grandmother, and it was largely the stump speech he's been giving for a week or so, with the return of the story about the woman in South Carolina whose spontaneous "Fired up! Ready to go!" chant inspired him early in the campaign, well before anyone thought he had a real chance. He brought that story back for the night, and told it well
.The best part for me was watching the crowd. There was an older African-American gentleman standing near me who was just beaming as he had someone take his picture with the crowd behind him. Young children on their parents' shoulders. People in their late teens and early twenties actively excited about the candidate. Some of these people had already been there for five or six or seven hours before Obama even took the stage, it was after 11 PM on a Monday night, and still the energy and excitement levels were high. After the speechifyin', there were still spontaneous chants of "Fired up! Ready to go!" breaking out even as 20,000 people were trying to funnel themselves out the 15-foot-wide gate that was the exit on that side of the fairgrounds and as the crowds were walking a mile or more back out to their cars. (I must admit that while we were all waiting mostly-patiently for 15 or 20 minutes just to squeeze out the gate, there might've been a slight
emphasis on the "Ready to go!" part. ;)) I was going to skip it initially since I did go to the kickoff rally at Nissan Pavilion, but I'm glad we went, even with the hours spent in traffic and the lack of dinner and the blisters on my feet from the hike and walking on gravel.