Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Day at the Ballpark

I am a baseball fan, a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan, and a trip to the ballpark is just about my favorite thing to do. The Dayton Dragons are the Reds' low A minor league affiliate, and though the Dragons' season ended more than a month ago, I happily hopped into my car and drove to the ballpark on Thursday. This time, though, there'd be no men in shiny white and green uniforms taking the field. No, this time, something far more important than the trivial matter of baseball would take place on the diamond. The leading candidate for the next President of the United States would speak from the same mound where Luis Montano took a no hitter into the seventh inning earlier this year, the same mound from which upcoming Reds stars Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey once threw, the mound in the middle of Fifth Third Field in Dayton, Ohio, a city in a state that could win the presidency for Senator Barack Obama.

I've been feeling pretty disheartened about the pervasive hatred that has surrounded the McPalin rallies of late, but a kos diary I just read has left me inspired and reminded me of what we set out to do. This election isn't just about the economy. No, the sorry state of the economy is what will give us victory, but that's not why Barack Obama is running for President of the United States, leader of the free world. Change is not an empty slogan in the Obama camp. Change is the goal, it is real, it is within our grasp.

What is this change?

Change is white people going into black neighborhoods and being welcomed because there is a sense of solidarity, that yes, we are all Americans. Change is eliminating suspicions, overcoming prejudices, being bold in the face of something unknown. Change is not living in fear of difference, not holing yourself up behind the walls of your house, worried that people will take what's yours. Change is transforming perceptions that a black community is the "bad part of town."

But it's much more than black and white. Change is also moving people to serve their country, not only through military service, but through volunteer service, whether it be the Peace Corps, a soup kitchen, or a community organization. It's getting up off your couches, out from behind the video games, and taking part in America again. This country wasn't built by people who sat back and let others do all the work.

Change is also ending the anti-intellectualism that has put this country in a hole, has seen our educational system fall to the bottom of the industrialized nations, and has whipped up a frenzied hatred that we haven't seen since the turmoil of the sixties. This is all a result of the divisive tactics of Republican politics started by Nixon and continued by every Republican presidential campaign since. Change is unity. Change is learning to respect the wisdom of the educated instead of dismissing their advice as "elitism." Change is learning to respect each other despite differences in opinion.

As Obama yard signs get stolen or vandalized, as people's houses are spraypainted, as cars are vandalized and Obama supporters are shot with BB guns, it has never been more evident that change is not only necessary, but critical. We can't move this nation forward if we have to constantly watch our backs.

The major difference between Obama rallies and McPalin rallies at this point is that we hold onto hope, while they hold onto hate, a hate built by ignorance, lies, and rightwing talk radio that spreads conspiracy theories like a Tom Clancy novel. Senator McCain - the real Senator McCain - showed up for a minute at one of his rallies yesterday and tried to appeal to the rational side of his followers. They booed him.

Palin ended yesterday's speech with a culture of fear:
"So you know, Ohio, from now until Election Day, you're gonna hear our
opponents go on and on about how they'll, quote, fight for you. But
since my running mate won't say this on his own behalf I will say it
for him. And that is, in this campaign there is only one man who has
every really fought for you. The only man who has ever really fought
for you and the only man with courage."

Senator Obama concluded with a statement of hope:
"Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve
and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without
jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can't afford
to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at
the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting
on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we
had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had
grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my
child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may
have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call
their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run
for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son
can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail."

I left the ballpark with a feeling not unlike that after a victory of my favorite baseball team. We in the progressive movement seek to renew the American promise and to give hope to those who have lost it in the era of greed and corruption our nation has undergone. As a great man once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

cross posted at washingtonrox

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