Notes From a Battleground State: Bruuuuuuuce!

Presidential Elections, Uncategorized, US Elections, US Politics

Sometimes, it’s awfully nice to live in a battleground state.

AP/ Terry Gilliam

AP/ Terry Gilliam

Barack Obama has paid us a call here in Columbus, Ohio several times already and I’m sure he’ll be back again before election day. And yesterday, Bruce Springsteen came to town to give a free concert and get out the vote.

It was a gorgeous fall day — sunny but cool, with blue-blue skies and leaves just beginning to turn. My daughter was excited about going to her first real concert. (“Rock star” is currently her career goal.) I expected a madhouse but the crowds descended upon the Oval at OSU in a relaxed, strolling way. Lots of smiles.

No tickets were required for the concert, but tickets existed — they could be picked up at various Obama field offices. I didn’t bother. As we were walking, a young guy asked me if I had a ticket. I said “no…” fearing that the rules had changed or I’d misunderstood something. He said “here” and thrust a ticket at me. Uh, thanks!

Then a guy next to him looked at my daughter and asked if we needed another ticket. Well… He handed his over. Wow, thanks!

So, red tickets in hand (indicating that we were Brian and Sam, respectively), we worked our way towards the SPECIAL entrance (closer-up!) for ticket holders.

There were a bazillion people (evidently 10,000 total!) and this took awhile, with much winding and meandering of lines, even though everything moved pretty fast.

There were a small pack of protestors — about five — waving McCain/ Palin signs. I caught the eye of one guy who was smiling fixedly and walked straight towards him instead of diverting around their patch of turf. His eyes widened a bit and he got out of my way. A woman took his place and waved her “NOBAMA!” sign at me. I said, pleasantly, “Why do you support them?”

Protestor (gearing up to talk about Obama and then stopped short): Them…?

Me: Them. (Indicating McCain/ Palin sign.)

Protestor: Because I care about children.

Me (putting my arm around my 7-year-old daughter): I do too.

Protestor: But Obama is a baby-killer!

Me: Do you think abortions will stop if Roe vs. Wade is overturned?

Protestor: …….. I don’t want to talk to you.

Then she turned her back on me and walked away.

Ah well.

If my kid hadn’t been with me I may have pursued it further — I don’t get many opportunities to scare the crap out of people these days. (I was pleasant throughout but she was FREAKED. Heh.)

We made our way to the fancy red ticket area. There was an opening to an area closer to the stage and it wasn’t clear if that was part of the fancy red ticket area or if it was a fancier area. I asked a guy who was standing there and he said yeah, that’s a fancier area, the ticket you have won’t get you in there. Oh, OK. The kid and I stayed in the semi-fancy red ticket area and tried to figure out where to stand. She complained about not being able to see anything. I said she could sit on my shoulders. The fancier-area-guarding-guy heard some of this and then got our attention. “Go ahead,” he said, indicating the fancier area. Eh? Us? Really? THANKS!

So in we went to the fancier area. We started to get situated — we were very close now. Then I saw an ASL interpreter standing near the stage. I hadn’t requested one (I’m deaf) and didn’t expect to see one at a concert. But there he was. Well, if we got this far…

I flagged down a friendly Obama staffer (they’re all friendly, I swear) and spoke and signed simultaneously, “hi, I’m deaf…” He perked up and said “Oh, OK, right this way…” And we were ushered into the even fancier, in fact I think super primo fancy nothing-fancier area, with chairs and everything, for a clear view of the interpreter (and the stage!).


Seconds later, Mayor Coleman showed up to get things started. I only had my daughter’s cheapo digital but here’s a picture of him, that also indicates how good our seats were:

Mayor Coleman

Mayor Coleman

Lots more talking followed (I was glad for that interpreter after all), including John Glenn and a fellow who won an award for outstanding volunteer efforts. He said “The bad news is, I was a Republican. The good news is, now I’m a Democrat.” The place erupted. He said he’d learned from his mistakes and now was working as hard as he could for the Obama campaign — and urged us all to do the same. The crowd roared.

Then John Glenn came back out to introduce the Boss! It was just him, no band. A guitar and a harmonica. He did mostly new stuff that I didn’t know, though some songs I knew of, like “The Rising.” My daughter kept saying, “Wow, he’s really good,” and “this guy knows what he’s doing…”

After a pretty good set (I’d guess maybe eight songs), Bruce took his bows. There was a thunderous ovation and he smilingly agreed to an encore. What was it? “This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land.”

This happens to be one of my daughter’s all-time favorite songs and she sang along lustily with ten thousand of her friends. I saw many wet eyes among the singing crowd. Took on a really interesting meaning in context.

Here’s a shot I took of the crowd right after the whole thing finished:

The idea was to get a bunch of people from that huge crowd to register (if they hadn’t already) and vote early. This seemed to go well, with the Columbus Dispatch reporting that, “lines snaked out the door yesterday at the Veterans Memorial early-voting site on W. Broad Street. Some people waited more than an hour and a half to vote.” And, “preliminary data indicate that more than 60 percent of those who also registered to vote in Franklin County during the early-voting period were younger than 34 years old — and more than 80 percent of voters already registered with a party who cast absentee ballots were Democrats.”

Good news. And a fun day.



  1. nimh  •  Oct 6, 2008 @6:57 pm

    See, I knew you were scary! :-D

    Seriously, sounds like an amazingly fun and uplifting day. With appopriately fun and uplifting people. Sounds like some of the demonstrations I’ve been to.

    And I do love these dispatches ‘from the ground’, so to say, all the more because as a foreigner all I get is the media view.

    “This land is your land” – I got from Staz that it’s something of an alternative anthem there now – which is cool. Especially because of its distinctly leftist origins. I think I’ve still really only ever heard it sung by Woody Guthrie, and I love it.

  2. OCCOM BILL  •  Oct 7, 2008 @1:04 pm

    Pretty cool Soz. I love how you seemingly always manage to finagle your way to the front!

  3. sozobe  •  Oct 7, 2008 @1:19 pm

    What is that dino saying?

    I’m *selectively* scary. :-D Confronting clueless protestors qualifies.

    Bill, it’s the fact that I have an interpreter, usually — but this time three different very nice people got me close enough to know that there WAS an interpreter!

  4. nimh  •  Oct 7, 2008 @2:40 pm

    It says “my brain is tiny”…

  5. cyphercat  •  Oct 14, 2008 @7:42 pm

    Wow, Soz, what a cool experience! I’ve been so jealous of you this election, living in a state that’s hotly contested–we’re so sadly negelected here in California…

    Also, just wanted to say I love the blog! Very good posts, well written, interesting…I can’t wait for Observationalism to be the next big thing! Nice job, all you guys :)

  6. sozobe  •  Oct 15, 2008 @4:45 am

    Hey cyphercat, great to see you!

    I know, it’s amazing. I actually didn’t go to an Obama rally last week (Barack himself) because I’d already gone to three and met him twice and was a fourth really necessary? I’ve brought a new person each time and invited a friend of mine but she was too busy (though she wanted to go!) so I didn’t go either. Kinda regret it now though. Hey, maybe he’ll be back again before election day! Could happen.

  7. nimh  •  Oct 15, 2008 @6:13 am

    You’ll be able to be the ultimate snob at birthday parties in 20 or 30 years’ time, when as grand old lady you can go: “ah yes, and then there was President Obama, I remember meeting him during his first election campaign … well, you know, I met him twice, I didnt really feel like going a third time cause however good a guy someone is, there’s only so many times you can meet a President before it gets a little boring, you know?”