Back in April, 2007 I was a delegate for the California State Democratic Convention - not the national convention in Denver - just the state party. The convention that year was a high-profile event, all the Democratic contenders were there to give speeches and work the crowd - everyone from Hillary Clinton to Mike Gravel.
Clinton was the first to speak, and gave a competent red-meat speech that definitely fired up the crowd. She assured us she would fight for us and take that fight right to the Republicans. She was, she told us, the only one who could.
Obama was next. He started his speech by introducing himself as the candidate with the funny name and the big ears. And then he did something extraordinary. He didn't talk about himself for the rest of his speech. He talked about us.
He talked about how it was in our power to take back our country. About how we needed to look after one another, how we needed to talk to one another as neighbors. As Americans. Even if we stood on opposite sides of the political isle. He talked about how we had to take responsibility if we wanted to change our country, because it was beyond the ability of one man or one woman to do so.
In a sea of candidates who talked about what they would do for us and how they would take the fight to the Republicans, Obama was the only candidate offering us a partnership in his campaign, the only candidate who offered co-ownership, who asked us to do the work, so that together we could prevail.
I never looked back.
One of the really awful byproducts of eight years of Bush/Cheney has been a Darwinian (ironic, I know ) emphasis on selfishness. When 9/11 hit, Bush could have asked anything of us, and we would have done it. Drive less to reduce our dependence of foreign oil? Sure. Reconnect with our neighbors, so that we'd be there for each other in a time of national emergency? Absolutely!
But instead he told us to go shopping. Shopping.
So on some level, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it's come to this:
WORKER DIES AT LONG ISLAND WAL-MART AFTER BEING TRAMPED IN BLACK FRIDAY STAMPEDE
by Joe Gould
NY Daily News
Updated Friday, November 28th 2008, 11:58 AM
A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.
The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."
The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.
The cause of death was pending.
A 28-year-old pregnant woman was knocked to the floor during the mad rush. She was hospitalized for observation, police said.
Three other shoppers suffered minor injuries, cops said.
Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life.
"They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."
Only a few stopped.
"They're savages," said shopper Kimberly Cribbs, 27. "It's sad. It's terrible."
I hope with all my heart that one of the byproducts of an Obama administration will be the chance that this kind of horror won't likely happen again.