I dropped off the boys at preschool this morning and drove out to Hilliard, a predominantly white, working and middle class suburb west of Columbus, to hear President Obama speak. I've only gone to see him once during this campaign and it was starting to feel like I wasn't doing my share, given how often he's here. Because of course I despise the electoral college and it's weighting that favors all those White folks who live in all those socially conservative states with all that cattle. And how it puts all the emphasis of the election on just a few people's votes. But ultimately, here I live where the Obamas seem to be throwing a barbecue in my backyard every other weekend. I might as well enjoy it.
It was a rowdy crowd, which made it fun. You know the type, packs of supportive hecklers that are so "fired up and ready to go" they can't help but interrupt the President with chants of "four more years!" every few minutes. And of course President O. eats that kind of stuff up, with that fantastic grin and a "love you right back," and a "this guy here has had way too much coffee!"
And it's not like I heard anything I didn't expect to hear. I'm familiar with with the President's accomplishments, but I was moved by a couple of things. First was that he didn't talk all that much about Romney, and when he did point out Romney's unwillingness to reveal the details of his plans until after election day, he followed it up with, "You know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I'll fight for you and your families as hard as I know how."
Which really is exactly what I do feel I know about the President. It's the kind of campaign promise I have no doubt he can keep. And it's why I think the stream of praise New Jersey Governor, Republican Chris Christie has uncharacteristically honored the President with this week is so remarkable. Because there is just no question that the President will do everything he can for the people of New Jersey. Everything. Chris Christie doesn't need to make nice in order to ensure the citizens of his state get the highest quality help FEMA can offer. He doesn't need to pander to Obama. Surely Chris Christie could be his usual growling, partisan, bulldog self and hog up all the I'll-come-to-your-rescue limelight, and still President Obama would make sure the federal government was doing everything it possibly could to help the people of New Jersey. Which says to me that Chris Christie must really be feeling the love. And the efficiency. And the get-things-done energy of the Obama team. The Governor must feel like he's getting exactly the help he needs in what is, most certainly, the biggest challenge of his life.
The second Come-to-Barack moment for me, was after President Obama listed off all the people who need a "champion" in the White House. People who will lose their health insurance, students who want to afford to go to college, veterans who want to come home and be taken care of, children stricken by poverty. After going through this list of people he wants to keep fighting for, he said, very solemly, "That's why I need you Ohio."
And it really felt like he was talking directly to each person there, myself included. As if my given name actually was Ohio. I need you Ohio. As if he was saying, "you there, Ohio Rose-Cohen, you can hate the electoral college as much as you want, but it doesn't relieve you of the sacred responsibility that comes with being an Ohio voter." I need you Ohio! As if he was reminding us in the clearest possible way, that people all over the country are depending on our votes in order to keep their health insurance. Or their right to organize. Or their path to citizenship. Or their food stamps. Or their mortgage interest tax credit. Or control of their medical decisions. Or their right to marriage. They need you Ohio.
It's a pretty powerful responsibility. One that prompted me to come home and sign up for four Get Out The Vote shifts in the next four days. There's a lot at stake, and I feel thrilled and sobered by the responsibility.