Saturday, October 23, 2004

‘Are We There Yet?’




Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry speaks at a rally at Union Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004.



Well… that was a workout.

My aspirations are always bigger than myself. I never seem to take into account how rough something will be before I attempt it.

This is the way the John Kerry rally, here in Pueblo, went for me this morning.

But, I’m not sorry at all that we went. The kids had a great time. They especially enjoyed watching grown adults argue with each other, flip each other off and shout and holler insults. All of this must have been quite a shocking switch for them.

We dropped Michelle off, as planned, at her workplace. After we stopped at an ATM machine we routed toward Union Depot across the river. I guessed (correctly) that we might already have a crowd ahead of us, as there was more than a little traffic (there is NEVER any traffic early on Saturday).

As we neared the event area it became obvious that, even though the gate opened at 7am and John Kerry wasn’t speaking until 9am, we might be a few hours behind the curve anyway.

We parked and walked to find the end of the line. When we finally found it, after walking around the entire block, we were back only a few yards from where we parked in the first place.

I estimate that there were, perhaps, 15,000 people who had made it there before us. Thousands more made it to the event behind us. From that point onward the event was simply more and more crowded.

It was an eclectic gathering. After we were in line for a while we heard booing from behind us. The Bushbots had arrived – 12 or 13 strong. They had their anti-Kerry signs and two were dressed in Dolphin costumes (for “Flipper”). A few in the line cursed at them. Most people just laughed, as there weren’t all that many of them.

I got many photos of the entire event (Btw, I’ll have the personal photos up as soon as I can get my film developed… the digital was kind of a disaster).

7am came and went and the line didn’t move all that much. This afforded us the opportunity to see many characters walking by. One guy who went by a bit too quickly was dressed in some sort of plumed outfit – and shorts and short sleeves to boot. He had around him straps from his neck and waste and a metal prop that held a video camera, aimed at his face. A monitor was next to that where he could see himself. He was talking into the camera and commenting on the scene. I missed my chance at getting a good shot of him.

There were many others. One young lady was walking the line of people asking them to help “impeach Bush.” It soon became apparent that she was a Ralph Nader supporter. Another lady in line in front of us got into a heated debate with the Nader girl about “changing the electoral process.” The kids especially enjoyed watching the two of them go at it.

As the line moved and we made it around the first block, back toward the gate, the classiest group of demonstrators showed up in a taxicab. As four or five of them got out we noticed they were dressed in tuxedos, overcoats and top hats. Their signs were great too, “Billionaires for Bush,” “Don’t vote,” “More corporate welfare.” They got a rousing hand from everyone in line. They moved quickly but I got a couple of shots (with the non-digital).

The line finally started moving about the time the kids began to get restless. Everyone in line was in a good and upbeat mood. The chill began to leave the early-morning air.

The Nader people were at the gate passing out literature disguised as if it were from the Democratic Party. Most people just threw the papers in the trash.

Across the street I saw that the Bushbots had set up camp and were alternately chanting “four more years” or “USA, USA!”

At the gate I learned why the line had taken so long: an intense and thorough search of each and every entrant. The kids made it through easy. Naturally, I set off the beeper on the metal detector. I was then invited to remove everything from every pocket on my person, told to take a drink of my water and I feared as though I may be subjected to a “body cavity” search as well.

After making it through the gate we learned there was yet another line to get in, leading up to the old Union Depot. This line took another half-hour.

Finally, we made it to the rally area. We weren’t real close, and the kids were disappointed at that. Matthew began to tell me repeatedly that he wanted “to go home.” I promised him hamburgers and this took the edge off the situation.

Since we were in line for so long we didn’t have to wait much at all for John Kerry to show up. I had seen some Secret Service people before getting into the rally area but when I started seeing them on both sides of the crowd I knew Kerry would soon be there.

It was the perfect setting for a political rally, the air was crisp, the sky was clear, 20,000-plus people there to hope for better times. When John Kerry was introduced the crowd went wild.

I enjoyed listening to him speak. It’s not real hard to agree that the Bush Administration has been a colossal failure. It’s not hard to believe that we, as a country, can do better than the low expectations of the current “leadership.”

I had already heard much of what both candidates have had to say. So, there were no surprises for me. I was there for the kids and to allow them to experience something different. I think they enjoyed it a lot.

After the rally ended I could hardly move my knees. I had a hard time walking back to the car. On the way back to the car I found an open restaurant and we stopped immediately. Everyone was hungry, so I treated the children to burgers and fries.

The kids ate quickly because they wanted to get back home and see the rally again on C-Span. The kids, by the way, have listened to both candidates a lot and have already made their decision on the race. They prefer Kerry over Bush, although they DO like Laura Bush a lot and believe that she is “much smarter” than her husband.

I certainly don’t support everything the Senator stands for. But, after everything I’ve seen and been through for four God-awful years it’s hard to disagree with the children very much.

This is an exciting race. There are nine days left until we learn what to expect for the next four years.

I don't know about the rest of the country but if what I witnessed today is indicitive of other places - with the huge turnout and the extremely small opposition - we are in for one big surprise on November 2nd.

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