Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

LIVE from BCC: A roaring welcome

Senator Barack Obama, Senator Maria Cantwell, and (hopefully) future U.S. Representative Darcy Burner have arrived at Bellevue Community College to a roaring welcome from thousands of cheering Democrats.

Supporters at Democratic Rally for Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner

Darcy gave a stump speech that was both solemn and stirring. Though I've heard this core theme from Darcy more times than I could count, I never tire of hearing it. It is a strong, refreshing message from a refreshing candidate.

"I am standing between two people who are incredible leaders," Darcy said as she spoke from the podium, flanked by Senators Cantwell and Obama. "I am honored to be up on stage [with them] because I believe they represent the best of what this country has to offer. Senator Cantwell has demonstrated over and over again what incredible leadership you can have, even in the minority, if you are smart and courageous."

"He has shown us....that it is possible to hope. I hope that you will join me in giving a warm welcome to Senator Maria Cantwell and Senator Barack Obama."

Senator Cantwell then stepped forward to address the crowd. She looked as cheerful as I've ever seen her and was very enthusiastic.

"It doesn't get better than Bellevue Community College, because it is about the education....A great college education will provide a great opportunity for America tomorrow."

"Darcy said it best - if you want to change the course of America you need to change who's in charge of the agenda."

Cantwell reemphasized her support of troop withdrawal and her belief that universal health care is urgently needed. She drew great cheers when she declared that the Eastside's Get Out the Vote effort would be one of the best ever. "We have twelve days to get the message out," she said.

One of the biggest cheers came when she mentioned her successful Senate filibuster: "We're not, on our watch, going to drill in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge," as she put it. Finally, she introduced Barack Obama. "When Barack Obama comes to Washington State, he knows that taking care of veterans and homeless veterans is a priority."

Senator Obama was the last of the three prime speakers to address the audience. He seemed awed by the sheer size of the rally. "What a crowd. I'm just excited to be back in Washington. Governor, thank you so much for welcoming us here.""

Obama in Front of Supporters at Democratic Rally for Maria Cantwell and Darcy Burner

He quickly reminded everyone of his local connections, noting "My mom was from Kansas. But she actually went to Mercer Island High School." He gave a long speech, which I would describe as more thoughtful than anything else. Some excerpts:
"To the two people who are standing beside me - I have had the great pleasure of working with Senator Cantwell over these last two years...Now you're lucky to send us another star in Darcy Burner. You know that she's prepared to do a great job in Congress."

"I have been traveling around the country for the last several weeks. There are close elections everywhere...I sense that there's a shift taking place.

"The nastiness, the slash and burn, the take no prisoners approach, the talking heads on's as if it's disconnected from reality."

"What I'm seeing now is a sense of seriousness of purpose."

"Everybody in this room is a patriot."

"There's that mood out there in the country. People are tired of the bickering, the negative campaigning, the name calling....they're looking for common ground."

"And so because the American people are a decent people, there's no reason why we can't have a decent government."

"We've gotta have a belief in better days ahead."
Obama also encouraged attendees to vote for Initiative 937 and ended his speech by urging everyone to have hope. He was practically mobbed as he left the stage, by reporters and activists, but he handled it all with a patience and a dignity that amazed me. Though surrounded, he calmly signed books, smiled for the cameras, and spoke to the party faithful. He was accompanied by Darcy and Maria.

At long last, the three of them finally made it outside the gym, with cameras and reporters forming a wide circle around as they climbed into hybrid Toyota Priuses to head off to their next function.

It was an outstanding, captivating, inspiring event, and it all took place right on my own college campus. It's hard not to believe anything is possible, and even as we look to a hopeful Democratic victory on November 7th, we also know that getting there requires giving all we've got to the cause.

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