i've sat back for the past week and watched everything that's been happening on the campaign trail of the obama and mccain camps. i've been reading about their rallies, about the things their supporters are doing and saying.
here's a small sampling:
mccain's rallies are growing smaller, louder, and more vicious. they are regurgitating the hateful vitriol that the mccain camp is feeding them. they are racist, fascist, hate-mongering, intolerant, and small-minded. they urge violence - cries of "terrorist!" "kill him!" and "die!" ring out. and what do their leaders do? smile and nod. keep flaming the fire.
obama's rallies and growing larger, louder, happier, enthusiastic, and optimistic. and there are ever more republican faces in the crowd, smiling and looking for hope.
15 minutes from my house on friday night, mccain spoke at a high school. the crowd started to go into loud, hateful mode and mccain - perhaps because deep down he's decent? perhaps because he knows that he's started this fire and it could spill over into a national tragedy come january if he doesn't try to squelch it? - actually told an audience that obama is a decent guy who they don't need to fear as president, he just happens to disagree on the fundaments of policy.
and the crowd? they BOOED mccain for saying that.
they booed him.
i thought, as a country, we'd moved beyond this. i had no idea racism and fear and willingness to be led like sheep was still so pervasive.
here's the thing, people: generations have fought for the right for a peaceful, equal country. we are on the cusp of something extraordinary, and instead of america embracing it with optimism and pride, small factions are becoming increasingly vocal about just how backward and unenlightened and ignorant they really are.
all it takes is a look at a mccain/palin rally side-by-side with an obama/biden rally:
wow. from hatred and yelling and looks of pure evil, to cheering and laughter in the rain. seriously - what country do we want to live in? i would rather cheer in a rain of hope and optimism any day than align myself with people so full of their own sense of self-righteousness that listening to the truth is beyond them.
two weeks ago i sent out an mail to some friends and family. in it, there was a story from a young woman who was trying to get from the miami airport to her new husband in norway. she was told she would have to pay a $100 surcharge for her worldly possessions that were now in two suitcases. she started to cry when she realized she couldn't pay the charge. a voice spoke up behind her, offering to pay. it was barack obama. this was 20 years ago when he was a poorly paid community organizer on the south side of chicago, and yet he did a wonderful thing for this woman without any expectations of agenda. when he started to run for office several years ago, she sent him a $100 campaign donation, and now says she is so proud to have had that experience all those years ago.
i read that story and thought, "how wonderful! a story about genuine character in a person who is running for the office of president." and i sent it out.
one of the people i sent that to sent it on to her own group of people, and then replied to not only her group but to mine and started a firestorm. her group, obviously, was in disagreement with my politics. it became a ridiculous back-and-forth, until one of her group sent out a link to the list that linked to a hate site about obama. a site that lists him as a terrorist, a muslim, and every other cliche lie that the republicans have put out there. this man, who i assume is fairly well educated and a christian because he is on my friend's mailing list, seriously bought into the hate machine and took it as truth.
the most important thing we, the democrats, can do right now is try to get the truth out there. if obama wins in november, there will be a small but vicious group of dangerous minds out there who will be a threat to not only our national security but also to this wonderful family man who is inspiring people all over the world.
it's unlikely these people will ever deign to learn the truth, but in case we run up against one willing to listen, here are some sites they need to see and read:
snopes.com (click on obama in the hottest urban legends tab)
factcheck.org (a non-partisan look at the rumors and platforms of political candidates)
fightthesmears.com (yes, this is obama's site. he's been proactively addressing all the lies about him since the beginning of his campaign.)
i look around my multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city, i look at the faces of my kids, and i have to believe that this country is on an upswing of acceptance. dr king dreamed of a world in which people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. well, quite honestly, if you call barack obama "bob," pretend he's white, and put him and his rallies up against mccain and palin and their rallies, whose content of character speaks to the kind of world you want to live in?