Yesterday morning, Barack Obama entered Portland's Memorial Colosseum to find thousands of people ready to listen.
Unfortunately, I was not a lucky members of the hoi polli screaming, shouting, crying and smiling. Ironically, there was no way I could afford to take a morning off from subbing to hear someone talk about how they were going to make our economy better.
But, I did listen to the speech at the gym later that morning. Among the many moving moments and powerful realizations that flooded over me, the biggest was the reminder of how much I love politics.
Yes, it could be the debating, the constant picking on Bush, watching Anderson Cooper on CNN and the insane amount of articles I get to read about it and- probably mostly- a politician's desire to actually make me agree with them when they say America is a great country.
Of course, all of this I knew and was reaffirmed during Obama's speech. However, what most moved me was the response of the people. Our country's morose disposition due to the current economy, war, education system (and the list goes on) can easily allow people to crawl into a ball and make them wish they were, anywhere but here. In fact, as a part of the youngest voting generation, I often feel that's how it is. While I am lucky enough to have many friends who are politically aware and inspired, I still have some who are not. And there are even more young grads and college students out there who feel that this next election cannot matter. That a president and our votes don't change the country. How sad that makes me feel and yet how true.
I can't say that I disagree with those who feel the government is a playing a game of "Who the Hell Cares" out there in Washington. But, for some reason- despite my lack of optimism for everything else in my life- I am optimistic about our future government. Maybe I have to be.
I'm relying on someone to save us from global warming, acknowledge that teaching is hard work and I need more resources for my students and maybe some cheaper gas prices to get there.
But it wasn't Obama who showed me this power yesterday, it was the crowd. Sure, Obama was the catalyst for the reaction, but the people responded. Nothing is going to change in our country if we don't respond. It will take more than some rallies and shouting to clean up the status quo, but the U.S. cannot become better if the U.S. people are apathetic.
Here's to Portland whose shouting, screaming and ""I love you, Obama!" reminded me that we are ready to be less reliant on fuel, more respectful to immigrants, willing to end a shady war, intelligent enough to recognize Global Warming as a crisis, happy to pay our teachers more, fighting to bring health care to all and strong enough to make America everything we say it is.