The Ultimate Test

Candidates for the Presidency of the United States raise hundreds of millions of dollars and compete in primaries and caucuses in state after state in order to win convention delegates.  They engage in a series of nationally televised debates, appear on political programs like Meet the Press and Hardball, and strive to demonstrate to America and the world in the early months of presidential election years that they are ready to take their campaigns to the next level.  

Obama’s campaign strategists knew all of these campaign events were relatively important, but realized they were just preliminaries to the ultimate test of leadership that awaited him.  They knew by early April that the time had come to get serious, that the time had come to launch the most crucial phase of Obama’s presidential campaign, that the time had come for Obama to go where the votes are, to go to the only place he could go in all of America to face that ultimate test of leadership.  

Grand Forks, North Dakota.  

I’m only an advocate, but I knew that too, so I went here:

My brother Craig, a lifelong Republican, joined me as I waited in line.  That line kept getting longer, and longer, and longer . . .

17,000 Americans came from small towns all across North Dakota and Minnesota to see the next President of the United States.  They came from farms throughout the Red River Valley, they came from the colleges and universities of the Upper Midwest, they came from Native American reservations, from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, from the VA Hospital in Fargo, from homes and schools and churches in this country’s heartland, where Americans still believe in decency and justice and democracy.  

These men and women and children who came to see and hear Barack Obama, who stood in line for hours on this spring day in this eighth year of BushCo fascism don’t want to see less jobs and more wars.  They’re sick and tired of less jobs and more wars, of lies and torture and Katrinas, of Enrons and Bear Stearns and Deciders, of endless coverups and endless betrayal.  They want to believe in America again, they want to be heard in Washington D.C. again, they want their country back, and it looked to me like they are damn well ready to take it back.


This Grand Forks Herald Photo Gallery has some good photos of Obama’s speech and related events on April 4th. I also took some photos and apologize for their less than professional quality.  

Once Craig and I made it inside, most of the crowd was directed towards bleacher seating, but we happened to be in part of the line that got sent to a seating section on the arena floor only 60 feet from the stage.

That was a tough break.        

Senator Conrad introduced Obama:

Conrad endorsed Obama not long after he announced his candidacy, only Obama’s fellow senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, had endorsed Obama at that point.  So when Conrad asked Obama if he could give the keynote address at the North Dakota State Democratic Convention on April 4th, Obama said “Yes I can!”

Did he give a good keynote address?

Yes he did.

Did I manage to take any good photos of it?

No I didn’t.

So here it is on YouTube:

I know Obama hasn’t spoken out for Impeachment, I know he hasn’t taken a stand for all of the progressive principles we believe in, but I also know he is going to be smeared like no Democrat has ever been smeared before.  He is going to be slandered day in and day out, from now until November, because he’s a Democrat, because he’s black, because the corporate war machine and it’s bought and paid for hack politicians and media thugs are not going to tolerate even the slightest challenge to their power.

They don’t give a damn about people like us:

If they take Obama down, it’s over.  For all of us.  For keeps.  

Progressives who aren’t satisfied with Obama should think about that.   They should think about what it must feel like to know a shit storm of slander is coming his way, to know “one lone nut” could end his life at any time, to know the truth about his death would be covered up just like John Kennedy’s assassination was, like Martin Luther King’s assassination was, like Robert Kennedy’s assassination was, like the S&L scandal was, like Iran-Contra was, like Florida 2000 was, like 9/11 was, like the targeting of Iraq was, like Ohio 2004 was, like every other corporate government crime has been for the last fifty years.

Obama isn’t defending American democracy from a keyboard like you and me, he’s putting his life on the line for it every day.  That’s the ultimate test, that alone has earned him your vote.  This one man has done more in a few short months to restore democracy in this country than the entire progressive blogosphere has in all its years of existence.  So maybe it’s time for the dissatisfied democracy defenders among us, who look down on Obama with such disdain, to climb down from their progressive pedestals long enough to cut him some slack.                          

Or would that be too much to ask?

This my brother Craig:

He’s a lifelong Republican, but he’s willing to give Obama a chance, he wants a president who will at least try to unite this country, heal its divisions, and restore decency and integrity to government before its too late. I’d like to see some unity and healing too, right after Impeachment and war crimes trials, but neither Obama nor Democrats in Congress have the power yet to confront the corporate criminal masters of this country.

An election landslide mandate would give them that power.  The most decisive electoral mandate in American history is within reach.  Obama is reaching for it, and if we all reach for it too it’s going to happen.  There’s nothing BushCo and their corporate criminal masters fear more than that, there’s nothing their Bush Dogs fear more than that, it would destroy their control of the government for a generation, it would render them vulnerable at long last to the Constitution and the laws of this country.        

I think Obama knows what needs to be done with that mandate.  I think he will do what needs to be done once he is in that White House and has the power.  I’ve seen him, I’ve seen with my own eyes the effect he has on people. It’s not hype, it’s not superficial, the power he has within him to inspire everyone who sees him and hears him is real, it is a force multiplier, it is a source of energy and confidence and determination we can summon strength from in the coming months and years as we help him change this country and the world.  

This is the stage a few minutes after Obama’s speech, he was on the arena floor talking to people in the crowd at the far end of the stage, one American to another, because that’s what America is supposed to be about:

On January 20, 2009, I hope Obama will be on that Inaugural stage in Washington D.C., talking to everyone in the world on behalf of every American, one human being to another, because that’s what this world is supposed to be about.  

Help Him Get There



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  1. We can do it.


    • Edger on April 6, 2008 at 14:33

    The images you posted that are on AOL webmail are invisible to people who are not logged into to AOL webmail…

  2. just as Bush very much was elevated by 9/11, Obama could use an event too.

    This may sound bad, but I’ve been wondering lately if economic collapse might not be the best and fastest way to real change. FDR fashioned the New Deal out of economic ruin.

    Economic collapse brings the troops home and invalidates all the Republican policies.

  3. I read a bit yesterday morning. Heard it was the biggest crowd for a political speech in ND history. WOW.

    I do think something very real is happening, right in front of our eyes. It might not be what each of us would have crafted if we had been in Obama’s position, but I think that its history in the making. The world looks very different to those who aren’t political junkies like us. And everywhere I go, it looks like hope in this country again that Obama is inspiring.

    I worry about what the “blowback” from the PTB will be. If we could only remember, when that blowback comes, that its really a distraction to the mobilization of the people, and not about Obama, then we might really be getting somewhere.

    And now that Obama has officially visited Grand Forks, ND…let the games being!!!

  4. she said Obama is bringing people into the process who have never been part of it… who didn’t think they had a part in it. and your political rally seems to echo this beautifully.

    as for our blogging, in this current set up, we may be putting more on the line than we know. cause i’m sure there are FBI files on us “dissidents”

    • Mu on April 6, 2008 at 16:51

    I support Obama.  I’m growing very eager to hear him hammer on specifics.  The “changey change” thing’s getting old.  I “get” it, but the day’s coming soon when he’s going to have to ramp-up the rhetoric and put some “beef” behind it.

    Mu . . .

    • Mu on April 6, 2008 at 17:19

    . . . and an opportunity squandered.

    Mu . . .

  5. I’ve written before about how I can’t get too worked up about the Presidential election.  I know that no candidate is representing what I feel deeply about when it comes to what should be done in the US.

    I voted in the New York primary.  It was the first time I ever went to vote where I didn’t know who I would vote for.

    I like Hillary Clinton.  Under different circumstances, she would have been an easy choice for me.

    I didn’t know who I was going to vote for even when I went into the voting booth.

    I voted for Obama.

    When I left the polling place, which was in a public school not far from my home, I saw two young people with Obama signs.  Before they had a chance to say anything to me, I said to them “I voted.”  They were happy about that.  And I continued “I voted for Obama.  And I did it for you young folks … I think it’s your turn now.”

    Their faces lit up with smiles.  It made me feel good.

    I never voted for the sake of someone other than myself before.  It was strange.

    Thanks for this essay, Rusty.  It will take all of us to face the challenges ahead.  Each positive step is important.  And you have shown one big positive step we can take.

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