Thursday, October 16, 2008

A visit to Obama's Illinois Headquarters

Posted by Craig on 10/16/2008
In a lot of ways, this is where things all began for Barack Obama: in Chicago. How awesome that I had the opportunity to visit his Illinois Headquarters this evening, right by the Chicago River.

The excitement was booming here, as volunteers and campaign workers enthusiastically spoke about "being a part of history" and the fact that the election is just "19 days away." Wow, it really is.

This headquarters is where all the nitty-gritty grassroots work is done. Phone calls, signing up volunteers, getting out to reach young voters - they spent plenty of time talking about the youth vote -, and raising money and sparking interest in Obama in the online world, Facebook and the like. In addition to its work in Illinois, the headquarters here works intimately with the get-out-to-vote efforts in Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri.

The one difficult part of this trip for me was hearing everyone talking about the primaries over and over and over. Way to open old wounds for this Hillary supporter, who now - after much deliberation - has decided to support Obama. It hurt - seriously, it really did, to hear these people talk of their jubilation on the night of the Iowa caucuses. They all spoke about the experience and in great detail - where they were when they heard the results and what the victory meant for the Obama campaign. Iowa this, Iowa that. It hurt.

But it also offered me a chance to hear a different perspective - a very different one, obviously, one I had never heard or understood completely before. When I really thought about it, it really was a historic occasion, and it was all grass roots, they told us - knocking on doors, just what Sen. Obama believes in, dating back to his days as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

This experience also offered a glimpse into why Obama decided to run in the first place. A friend of his since 1997 and now a part of his national board of directors recited the reasons for us, and I found this part most interesting. A series of events:
(1) his Daley Plaza speech against the Iraq war in 2002, at that point he first pondered the thought of running for the highest office in the land;
(2) when he met a veterans group in Evergreen Park, a group that had suffered missing limbs and so on; "that really moved him";
(3) he saw the major problems this country was facing and thought "let me at least give it a shot;
(4) the influence Abraham Lincoln has had on him, his interest in Lincoln in an historical context and how Lincoln didn't have much experience to be president either;
(5) visiting his grandmother in Hawaii, and she suggesting it was a good idea;
(6) Michelle, and maybe one of the biggest influences on him to finally declare he was running - always a "wise council," and she said "maybe you should do it."

A few more pics from tonight's excursion.

4 comments on "A visit to Obama's Illinois Headquarters"

Anonymous said...

Well, I am definitely jealous about your trip to headquarters. I am actually writing my senior seminar paper on the impacts of Facebook and Myspace on the election, so it was cool to see that you mentioned that they were talking about it at headquarters. It must be a pretty exciting time to be living in Chicago!

Craig on October 16, 2008 at 11:12 PM said...

Megan, I have a contact for you with the Obama campaign if you want to get info on how Facebook/Myspace is affecting the election. I'll PM you on Facebook. It's definitely an exciting time to be here...and it's been a fun couple of weeks with Obama surging in the polls. Hopefully Nov. 5 is a good day too...if you enlarge that pic of the calendar in my blog you'll see what the campaign hopes to do that day...

Anonymous said...

this was so interesting! and your paper for school was awesome, very easy to read and learned a lot! glad you got the chance to do that :)

Craig on October 17, 2008 at 1:13 PM said...

thanks Melissa :) it was definitely cool. miss you guys though and i'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving/winter break!


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