I learned a lot over the last four days.
Though I consider myself very engaged politically, no candidate has ever inspired me enough to get my butt of the couch (where I spend most of my time blogging) and to physically help his or her campaign. That is the power of the Obama campaign, which is truly unlike anything I have ever seen.
On Saturday, I volunteered to make phone calls from a Denver office. By the time I left, I had dialed 260 phone numbers, spoken with over 60 people, and helped a few of them follow through on their committment to vote for Obama. I was surrounded by other phone volunteers, canvassers, organizers, in an atmosphere of enthusiasm mixed with anxiety for a result no one could predict. One of the organizers convinced me to take the day off on Tuesday to give more help. I couldn't say no.
On election day the office was flooded with volunteers: some were people I had already met on Saturday, most were new people who had come straight from the polls to do what they could to help Obama conquer Colorado.
As I wrote to a friend, it was inspiring to see so many people donate their time, money and energy to prevent the downward spiral of the Bush years from continuing under a McCain presidency. It was humbling to see how many people had flown in from non-contested states (even foreign countries) to help Obama carry Colorado, and to see even really young kids work with their parents to make banners, sort lists, and make phone calls.
A good friend called me from Western Pennsylvania, and told me she went to a polling place with her 18 month old daughter, and both distributed stickers and buttons to voters.
That, I believe, is the spirit that put Barack Obama over the top in this contest: his ability to mobilize so many first-timers, who had never actively participated in a political campaign before. This spirit of participation, this belief that we are truly all in this together, that change comes from the bottom, is the true promise of the Obama presidency, and I hope that he won't let us down, if we don't abandon him.
For the greater part of the last eight years I had only seen the worst of America's democracy. Over the last four days, I was humbled by the passion and the dedication of the many volunteers who helped the cause we all believe in, giving everything they could afford to give.
I am deeply grateful to Jamie, Holly, Deneen, Madeleine, Greg, Chris, Steph, Maggie, Lisa, Julie, Will, and all the other great, selfless people I met over the last few days.
These are truly memorable times.