|President Barack Obama|
Back in 2004, I sat riveted as I watched this young politician from Illinois dazzle everyone with his iconic call for unity at the Democratic National Convention. He told us that there were no such thing as red states and blue states, but that we were the United States. I was mesmerized, and I told my significant other at the time that we would be hearing a lot more from this Barack Obama guy. I followed President Obama's career in the Senate, and I hoped that someday I would be able to cast my vote for him in the race for President of the United States.
In 2008, I found myself gravitating towards Joe Biden a bit in the early going, but I kept my eye on Senator Obama to see what he would do. On that February day when he stepped into the cold Springfield air and said he was running for President, I was officially on board, and it was a movement.
I remember attending meetings for the President. We met at small boutique restaurants like the Legend in Irvington. I went to a meeting at Judge's Bar-B-Q in Haughville. I attended meetings at people's houses. It was something I had never done before. This was in 2007. When 2008, came around, I still didn't think there was much of a chance that this man I'd followed for so long would be the nominee. Then, the caucuses and the primaries. Before long, this man that I had watched was not only neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton, but he was the frontrunner.
I remember attending a Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner with Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama as the headliners. Indiana meant something to Democrats. You were a Hillary person or a Barack person, and we had our testy moments. For the most part, we kept it all in the family, though.
I still remember Tim Russert essentially calling the nomination for Obama after he won the North Carolina Primary and narrowly lost in Indiana. "We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be, and no one is going to dispute it." In a little over a month, Tim Russert would be gone, but the beat went on until late June when Hillary Clinton finally and with a great deal of class ended her campaign for President. Suddenly, the Hillary people joined the movement, and this thing was on. Barack Obama was the nominee, but the fight and the battle had really just begun.
All the Obama people who had been stationed in Indiana for months before the Primary came back, and our state became one of those "battleground states" for the first time since 1968. It was awesome to go to campaign events and know that our state's 11 electoral votes wouldn't just simply be conceded to the Republicans. Before John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, realized it, Indiana was turning purple. Then, Indiana turned blue.
November 5, 2008. I sat on my bed and watched as Barack Obama was declared the 44th President of the United States. I called my parents, both McCain supporters, and they were disappointed, but they knew the history of the moment. That's when things started to change.
I am here to tell you that the vote I cast on October 23, 2008 at the satellite voting site in Southport is STILL the best vote I have ever cast in a Presidential Election. For the first time in my life, I was part of the change, and it felt good. I still feel good about it today.
Our President has built a remarkable record that won't be appreciated until history writes about it. From the plunging economic depths, President Obama has rescued the auto industry and reduced unemployment. Millions of Americans now have health care. No longer can you be kicked off your insurance because you have a pre-existing condition. We have real reform of student loans. It's easier now to go to college and get money for that purpose. The War in Iraq is ending, and the War in Afghanistan is coming to an end. Osama bin Laden is at the bottom of the ocean.
Beyond all of that, we have a President that respects that families come in all different types. A President that has evolved into one of the most LGBT-friendly national politicians in history. President Barack Obama has time and time again shown that he doesn't look at polls to get the answers. He looks at what's right. He's a true leader.
Win, lose, or draw, I cannot be more proud today to be a Barack Obama supporter. It hasn't always been easy, and the pace of change has frustrated me at times. I've even been a little critical here at times on this blog, but I'm more convinced now than ever that Barack Obama is one of the most significant Presidents we've ever had. We can't let the work end now. So, as the slogan says, let's move forward. I hope you'll join me in support.
If you still need convincing, here's a wonderful reminder video. Enjoy.