On Tuesday, I spent all day knocking on doors. Metal doors, wooden doors, doors peeling with paint, doors that creaked and shuttered when I banged on them until I was scared I might knock them down. Sometimes there were people behind those doors, more often not, more often we just left little paper hangers that said “Vote TODAY-- Obama.”
I don’t think we saw a person who we didn’t harass twice. At first, when I started doing this, I felt awkward, self-conscious, upset to be intruding into people’s lives. But then we kept hearing the same response over and over again: “Thank you.”
Thank you for doing this. We appreciate your efforts. We’re so glad to see you. We were beyond welcome, in neighborhoods where we clearly didn’t belong, in areas where most people, myself included, would be scared to walk around in the middle of the day. I don’t know that I personally achieved anything, but it showed me what is really going on in America today. The unbelievable energy that went into Barack Obama’s movement. The very unexaggerated feeling that this presidency is really a turning point for race in America. The fact that this is a milestone that people have been waiting for since the birth of this nation.
But one man stuck out to me the most. He was a young man, sitting on his porch at 11:30 in the morning, low-backed. He was the one who said “I’m not going to vote.” He said “it doesn’t matter.” I gave him the campaign spiel, how it was really close in North Carolina, yadda yadda, how this was change, didn’t he want change? “Yeah,” he said. “But my vote doesn’t matter.”
That night, as I watched Barack Obama give his victory speech, I kept thinking about him. How I really wanted to go back to that neighborhood Wednesday, to find him, to say “See? You do matter.” And for the first time, it’s true. And it’s not just race. Listening to Obama, I realized that we all matter. That he’s not just taking the reins and let us go. This movement really is about us, all of us, even those who didn’t vote for him, even those who still oppose him, to which they are of course entitled.
Everyone here matters. It’s an amazing feeling, and one that everyone should share, not just here, but all around the world. Tom Brokaw, after the election results were announced, said “We don’t really understand the significance of this. Now, people are going to be energized to go to Washington like we haven’t seen since Kennedy. They’re going to feel the energy and want to be a part of this, to stand up and say ‘count on me.’”
I feel it. For the first time in my life, I feel like we really can change the world. And I’m no politician (thank god), and I don’t know if I’ll pack up and go to Washington, but this is the way the world changes, and I want in. I hope you’ll all join me, each in our own way, each from our different backgrounds and points of view, black, white, Republican, Democrat, gay, straight. Because agree or disagree with Mr. Obama, there’s one thing he said that is now undeniably true: “Yes, we can.”
Thank you, Mr. Obama. Thank you, everyone who worked for him, who voted for him. Thank you everyone who gave him the opposition he needed to really blossom. Now let’s go change the world.