Philly Loves Obama
It's been almost a week since Barack Obama was elected the forty-fourth president of the United States, and it seems both remarkably strange and remarkably normal that it should be so. However, this time last week, Mia and I were pounding the broken but welcoming sidewalks of west Philadelphia encouraging folks to go out and vote (for Barack) and asking them if they knew where their polling places were, whether any folks in their household needed help, and if they needed any literature.
In fact, the vast majority of people we met in this overwhelmingly working-class, African-American neighborhood seemed neither to need encouragement nor much information: they knew what they had to do and they were going to do it. You could feel the urgency and the steeliness in their anticipation of what was going to happen and their part in making it so.
On Monday night, we went to a very different part of town—south Philly, a white working-class enclave where the Obama campaign was worried that resistance to a black candidate might depress the kind of turnout in Philly needed to compensate for McCain support elsewhere in the Keystone state. It was billed as Joe Biden's last rally before election day, and public officials turned out in force: Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia; Martin O'Malley, governor of Maryland; Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania. Star power was provided by Jimmy Rollins
, short-stop for the World Series champion Phillies.
Mia and I have come to love Joe Biden—for his folksiness and his logorrhea, and the disarming way he has of being so blatantly political. Anyway, he was on fine form that night (you can see his speech here
), and we (along with 2,000 others in the damp November night) had a blast.
The following day, we canvassed in the morning and took the train back to New York. That night, after wetting our whistles at a bar in DUMBO (that's the District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass to you non-Brooklynites) and then subwayed over to Red Bamboo in Fort Greene to see California put BHO over the top. The place erupted; folks took to the street; car horns honked—and a new dispensation began.