By Patricia Wilson-Smith
The Republican Convention has been nothing if not entertaining. I started to skip the whole thing – I thought it would just be too darned hard to watch so many uppity people casting aspersions on my favorite Senator and yours. But I tuned in, and after three nights of truth-bending rhetoric, name calling and selective memory recall from the Republican smash machine, I’m alright. I’m just fine.
It was yesterday, during Sarah Palin’s speech that a deep calm came over me. Somewhere around the time when Ms. Palin began to mock Senator Obama’s background in community organizing. It was then, right then, that I realized that these people either a) have no idea what they’re up against, or b) can’t admit it to themselves. Either way, I’m golden.
Of what do I speak you ask? Well, you heard it – the notion put right out there for the world to see and hear by none other than the unqualified-one herself, Sarah Palin, that Senator Obama’s work as a community organizer consisted of no ‘actual responsibilities’. Which is to say (I guess) that his skills as an organizer have also had no impact on the campaign, or will hold no relevence for his presidency. That’s funny to me. Is it funny to you?
If it isn’t it should be. Way back when, during the days leading up to the hotly contested Texas primary, I found myself in Austin, Texas in a high-rise building phone-banking with total strangers, when Ashley Collier, one of the Obama campaign’s field directors walked up to me and exclaimed excitedly, “Miss Pat, is that you?!?” I had worked with Ashley and many of the other campaign workers in the Atlanta office during the Georgia primary run up. I had helped plan events, held phone-banking nights at the campaign office, etc., and so I had gotten to know Ashley pretty well.
Space was at a premium in the suite of offices that was the epicenter of Obama campaign activity in Austin. I had had to battle it out with retirees and college students for desk space to spread out the call sheets that I was working from each day. To my delight, Ashley advised me that she shared a small cramped office with two other campaign employees who happened to be out of the office on that particular day, and that she would be happy to let me crash with her to do my work while I was there. I was thrilled – it made me feel like a campaign insider!
I’ll never forget the time I spent with Ashley there that day. We talked about her work on the campaign, the crazy ‘Texas Two-Step’, her thoughts about Obama’s chances, and the empassioned men and women that made up the volunteer corps of the campaign. We talked about the success of Camp Obama, and I mentioned to her how tight a ship the campaign leadership seemed to run. And that’s when she said it – that’s when she said the words that made me realize, really for the first time, the true genius of the man for which I had worked so hard.
“(Paraphrasing) Oh, this is all Barack. He’s running every bit of this campaign – he is a brilliant organizer“.
A brilliant organizer. A brilliant organizer. I’ve never forgotten those words, and knowing what I know now about how Senator Obama has been able to inspire millions of apathetic Americans to get off their butts and get engaged, how he’s amassed more money for his campaign through individual donations than any politician in history, how he’s given birth to a new generation of activists and taught them not only how to get and stay involved, but how to organize to get others involved as well? I can’t do anything BUT laugh at the idea that Republicans would belittle his community organizing skills, since it’s the ultimate organized community that is poised to help him kick John McCain’s butt in November.
Yep. I’m truly gratified. Because, though it is not easy to turn from the train wreck, watching night after night, wanting to look away, but being somehow unable to, I have heard nothing, and I mean NOTHING that could possibly be mistaken as truth, and I know what millions and millions around the country and the world like me know – this is Senator Obama’s time, and no amount of name calling, belittling, or posturing from a chorus of Republican loud-mouths will change that.
And so, little Miss Firearms, go ahead and mock Senator Obama’s community organizing past. While you and your buddies shoot moose and swill beer and have a great laugh, Senator Obama’s organized community will continue to do the work that will push us across the historic finish line to a new direction for this country, and a total rejection of the last eight years of damaging, deceptive, destructive, and divisive Bush policies. Let ’em say what they want – I’m PROUD to be a part of the organized Obama community, and proud of every bit of the journey that has brought Senator Barack Obama to the edge of history – including those days in Chicago long ago.