Barack Obama

Seattle Travel Blog

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Hillary was in town last night, I tried to go to that but they had it out in the docklands and the outdoors venue was too cold (usually windy weather), so they had to move it indoors and could only let 5000 people in. 

Today I went really early to Key Arena with Luke to line up for Obama. The public transport system was chaos with 21 000 people, even hours before and hours after bus after bus was packed full. I couldn't believe the security around the event - they told people no backpacks, but didn't bother to search anyone (and everyone was wearing heavy coats) or even have a metal detector. Considering we sat there for hours until he turned up they had plenty of time to do decent security checks on the way in. Fine in Seattle, but I hope he gets better security in other parts of America.
The organisers certainly didn't earn their pay - leaving a bunch of alternative Seattlities for hours with nothing but bad country music playing. The governor came out and endorsed Barack, she made a nauseating speech about Obama remembering Seattle's planes and apples, seemed to just want to have a bit of his popularity rub off onto her.

It is a good crowd for Obama, he has huge support among young professionals who are the most likely to turn out for events (and to caucus for that matter - Hillary's support among the middle and lower class workers does not translate as well at caucuses). From the support for Obama today and the Seattle demographics this state is a sure thing for Obama tomorrow. It is so easy to feel good about Obama's candidacy, he has overcome so many odds to get where he is, but doesn't seem bitter at all about his life experiences.

So Obama was a great speaker. He talked about the excitement of voting without George W. Bush being on the ballot, he talked about how awful it was watching his mother die of cancer while having to struggle through the insurance forms. He said he would fix health care within his first term of office, and end the war in Iraq in 2009. He was happy to directly attack the judgement of John McCain, and said he wanted to work to secure nuclear weapons and start to talk to America's enemies. He noted that despite Bush's policy, millions of children had been left behind, and that was unacceptable in America. He said he would close Gitmo, guaranteeing a fair trial, and he would ban torture. Hardly revolutionary stuff at any other time in American history, but today it was greeted by wild applause.

A girl in the crowd at the front fainted and he threw her his water bottle and sent security down there to help get her out of the crowd. He addressed his weaknesses, said some people are surprised that he is going for the job so young, why doesn't he go and get experience in Washington DC and have the hope baked out of him. His answer was that America needs him now, and not in twenty years time. He said that some people thought hope and inspiration were great, but not enough. He answered that hope was not blind optimism, and he understood how hard it was but the vision was essential if he was to move there. He kept on reiterating that he was against the war from the start, and stated that America needs to regain its moral position in the world.

Overall I was fairly impressed.
There were a lot of school students in the crowd, and they didn't really seem to listen to him, just wanting to bask in his fame. His aspirations are great, he gives an inspirational speech, but I think that now a lot of his popularity and fame is based on his popularity and fame, rather than being hard earned with policy detail. But he is an amazing candidate, and to have Paris Hilton-style fame thrown on top of that just adds to his ability. He gave a few bits of policy, $4000 to children per year for education, and in return they need to give back service to the community, and tax breaks to seniors earning less than $55 000/year. Mostly though it was feel-good type of stuff, we are bringing change, need to work from the bottom, etc etc. There were a few veiled snipes at Hillary, but he never directly attacked her and essentially gave a positive message.

I'm not really convinced that Obama is a better candidate that Hillary. Hillary has far more policy detail, while Obama is better at conveying inspiration over his goals, but essentially on policy points they are identical. In terms of symbolism, both Obama and Hillary are ground breaking, Obama being the first to have a chance to break through institutional racism in this country, Hillary succeeding against the less vicious but more persuasive sexism that is alive and well in the form of promoting "traditional families". At the moment they are neck and neck in the primaries, I think Hillary has the advantage of greater name recognition, but Obama has the advantage that his core demographic are far more likely to be politically active enough to vote in the primaries than Hillary's core demographic is.
In a general election they match up pretty much equally against McCain, and so far twice the number of Democrats have voted in the primaries than Republicans have. Obama has the advantage that he will bring out the youth vote, and in numbers that have never voted before, and will be competitive with the independents. Hillary has the advantage that she will bring over the Latino vote, a growing voting block and one that McCain has good relations with, and can pinch some older women from the Republicans. Really the candidates are identical, and Obama's gift with PR negates out Hillary's knack with politics, putting them dead even. Both Hillary and Obama would be amazing Presidents, and now more than ever American needs an amazing President. I still hope for a joint ticket with Hillary/Obama, because uniting America will have to start with uniting the Democratic party, and the combination of Hillary's political prowess and Obama's oratory would smash the Republicans and give America a chance at regaining its position in the world.
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photo by: diisha392