By Stillman Brown
On Tuesday night at 11:50 PM I was in bed, under the covers, trying to sleep, my mind buzzing with the contents of Wednesday. The commute, the girl I like, the fax machine at work haunted by the ghost of a mean-spirited janitor – the usual stuff. I drifted to politics and an imaginary dialogue between Hil and ‘Bama:
Clinton: Ha ha! I won Florida tonight!
Obama: We agreed not to campaign there because they moved their primary up, remember? Florida lost all of its delegates.
Clinton: Piffle! I won the Sunshine state!
Obama: Right, well, congratulations, but you didn’t get any delegates.
Clinton: Gaa! I win!
Obama: Fine. You still didn’t get any delegates.
Clinton: Graar! The New York Times featured my victory on their website!
Obama: Indeed, they did. That doesn’t mean you won any delegates.
Obama: This is empty news. You get zero delegates.
Clinton: Stand aside! I ascend to Mount Olympus!
Obama: Sure, with all the non-delegates you didn’t win.
I turned over, looking for the right spot. In my mind’s eye, I was traveling over space and time to the Democratic National Convention on the night the Presidential candidate would be chosen. Suddenly, I had a terrible vision. It went something like this:
Obama wins a plurality of the states’ delegates, but in a grim turn of nepotism, greed, and unimaginative thinking, the so-called Democratic Super Delegates stage a rebellion and throw in their lot with Clinton. The calficied Old Guard quashes the bright-burning newcomer for one of their own. They subvert the will of the people. They rob the legitimate winner of his nomination.
In a fit of rage and frustration, myself and some friends huddle with our laptops, slam out some code and a logo, and start a blog demanding that the Democratic Party adhere to the will of the people. We post a short manifesto and petition declaring that we will re-register as Republicans and hand the election to McCain unless Obama is instated as our candidate. In the first hour, we get 50 hits. In the second, 1500. Two days later we have a following and 28,000 electronic signatures.
What follows changes the course of history: A trillion Diggs, a zillion Facebook links. We crash the entire WordPress server farm for an hour. The stock market takes another 100 point dive. Bill O’Reilly commits ritual self-disembowelment. Eddie Murphy begins to age in reverse and becomes funny again. Shit goes down, and we save the Obama presidency.
The fantasy is, of course, utterly ludicrous. My near-sleep daydream (technically, a reverie) was so vivid, however, that I sat upright and jotted some notes. Looking at them now, I have to laugh. They read something like, “Robbery – Obama/Clinton – showdown – Ninja Blog – Will of the People.” Still, In looking at my fantasy I see something worth dissecting.
First, it’s an odd thing to reverie about right before bed. It shows that I’m damn excited about political goings on. I am as excited about politics as I am about girls and all the other shit in my life. This is not to be dismissed. Furthermore, the role of the blog as a redemptive tool speaks to the role of the internet in political discourse and also to my increased empowerment – my sensation that I’m being heard and have a voice – thanks to technology.
The reverie has its roots in real life. Earlier that night, talking to my friend Chrisope about political buzz, he told me a story:
And odd thing just happened. I was driving to pick up a pizza for dinner and to get there I go past the old Arby’s, which has been closed for a while. My mom and I have been wondering what it would turn in to, and tonight I glanced at it, randomly, and was like, ‘Why are there so many Obama signs all over the place?’ Then I realized it must be his new campaign headquarters in Santa Fe. So I stopped in and signed up to canvas for him on Saturday.
This is the kind of stuff that’s been happening a lot lately. Many of my friends are jumping on the ObamaTrain, but I’m also noticing a general rise in political engagement. This has been borne out on facebook. Every day, my “News Feed” shows another person endorsing a candidate with a political “widget.” Those kids!
This morning my friend Shaun forwarded me Toni Morrison’s endorsement of Obama. In her letter, Morrison identifies the special sauce that has so many people fired up about Obama. He has, she writes, “a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom.” People are picking up on this. A friend said to me this morning, “It’s weird, but I feel like part of something.” For real, honest-to-God statistical evidence of a genuine movement, look no further then record turnout in every single primary so far.
The past 7 years have left me hungry for exactly this kind of groundswell, and I’m looking forward to waking up early on Tuesday, walking across the street to PS 250 in Brooklyn, and casting my vote. I imagine I’ll hang around for a few minutes afterwards and try to stretch out the moment. I’ll watch my breath come in clouds and chat with a neighbor. I’ll feel the waves of hope and panic that this year will be our year.