Today, the University of Richmond witnessed a camaraderie and fellowship you rarely see at non-sporting events. President Obama drew almost 9000 to his first road pitch of the new American Jobs Act. Any claim this wasn’t spontaneous is easily dismissed. The announcement was made and they came in droves.
“You expect in a time of crisis, everybody stops the political circus and acts to do something to help people; to help the economy.” – President Obama
What you heard while waiting outside, then seated waiting for the President, and afterwards were exactly those things the President spoke to today. It is an eerie realization that what Americans are worried about are the same pocketbook issues that helped define the silent majority that Republicans once claimed as their own. No more. Who you heard this President address are those who “may be looking for a job, or … know somebody who is looking for a job…make sacrifices to make ends meet; …work hard to meet … responsibilities… expect the people (they) send to Washington to do the same thing.” No Republican or Teavangelist’s mein connects to more than a sliver of this middle America.
Yesterday, they flocked to the school for tickets. Thousands filed through the small campus in a well organized short-notice effort. The University deserves credit for the efficient process (the Communications Director was on hand throughout), and those who lined up were handed tickets expeditiously. By 6:30 AM this morning there were already hundreds outside the doors of the Robins Center. By 9:30 there was a serpentine line over a mile long snaking across the entire campus; a sight no one had ever witnessed. Attendees took advantage of satellite parking and public and private transit so that the campus was never overwhelmed; they cooperated. Folks visited and waited for the doors to open. Once inside, they filled the remaining time between the invocation, the pledge of allegiance, and the National Anthem neatly spaced to break the monotony of the wait, by doing the wave, chanting, and discussing the event. These are the Americans that make America work and these belong to President Obama.
Yes, the other side is vocal and sometimes angry, reminiscent of those protesting the Viet Nam War. But their arguments, while engaging and often insightful, aren’t at the top of middle America’s day to day priorities. You still have to win over middle America and the other message simply doesn’t resonate (How many showed for Eric Cantor’s event?). Let them be happy in their echo chamber. Maybe that is why there was no presence of any back bench point of view to be seen anywhere on campus. They just can’t be bothered with the “unwashed.” Instead, OFA was there reaching out accompanied by a number of Obama supporters with signs and cheers. The other organization noticeably absent and missing the connection was the Democratic Party of Virginia. You wouldn’t guess that there is an election a few weeks away.