I saw John Kerry, along with about 3,000 other people.
Before Kerry arrived, I just stood there, watching the ideal photo opportunity being created. I saw people running around the stage in headsets, making sure everything was perfect. I saw the crowd behind the bleachers being hand picked; then I saw them being given Miami T-shirts. I saw Kerry signs and little American flags being handed out to us in the crowd.
I looked at every aspect, from the choice of music to the false starts, to find fault with the whole event and go home disenchanted and bitter.
I honestly tried, but I still came away excited for the upcoming debate in September and the election in November.
Yes, it was hot outside, and yes, the whole affair didn’t exactly start on time, but all I really had to do was crawl out of bed and stand around for a few hours. In return, I got to see a candidate for the Presidency of the United States speak within walking distance of my dorm, for free. It would have been nice if I had gotten to shake his hand or gotten an autograph, but is voting for Kerry because I got his autograph any more logical than voting for Bush because I like the commercials?
The loud music didn’t really set the atmosphere for an in-depth discussion of politics, but the interaction between Kerry and the crowd was more than I expected. He responded to the shouts from the crowd, even stopped when a woman fainted. It felt very personable.
Then there is always the consideration of whether we actually learned anything or just participated in another activity of our sound byte-style democracy. For me, the rally made the whole political race a bit more real, as opposed to just something one watched on television.
Yet the Kerry campaign can only do so much. After all, even talking to America in chunks of 3,000 people is a daunting task. Now, we as citizens have to take over. We need to follow the link on the posters we were all holding up today and read the longer version of Kerry’s positions, and maybe check another source to see if his budget really does make sense, or if his plan for healthcare really will help poorer Americans. Find the evidence to make more informed decisions, based on what you personally trust as facts, and vote based on that.
Sunday should make people excited. It should make people want to shout, “Yay politics!” and want to understand what Kerry can mean for this country, to vote in November and to keep voting in whatever election comes our way. Not so much because Kerry says so, but because we’re Americans, and that’s what we ought to do.
Elaine Ayo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.