Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Falling Off the Wagon

Well, way to go Wisconsin, I hope you're happy. With the latest Quinnipiac University polls showing Wisconsin going to Barack Obama by a solid 17 point margin, and less than three weeks to go before election day, many of the pundits have officially taken Wisconsin out of the "undecided" category.

For shame. I thought you knew better.

You could have been more racist, like Missourri, West Virginia or North Carolina. You could have been more noncommital, like Ohio, Indiana or Nevada. You even could have been more clueless, like our neighbors in Minnesota, which is only leaning Blue. But no, you had to go and swing 17 points in Barack Obama's favor, slipping from battleground to conquered ground, and now you're just out of luck.

There's an old saying that holds particularly true in Wisco: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Barack Obama knows he's got Wisconsin's dairy in his hip pocket, so now, we get backburnered.

I'm being completely facetious, of course. The fact is I'm actually so excited about the new numbers, I'm actually allowing myself to get a good feeling about November's election. While it is by no means in the bag for Obama (I doubt neither the Democrats' collective abilities to bollox it up, nor the Republicans' willingness to sink to as-of-yet uncharted lows in the final weeks of election season), I took an as of yet unprecedented step in my life this evening.

Following dinner, I cautiously hung a Barack Obama cling on my front window, then allowed myself a moment to bask in... well, the audacity of my hope.

What I find so damn disappointing about Wisconsin's swing to the Obama camp is that it does knock us down a little ways in the order of importance among other contested states. In 2004, Wisconsin went to John Kerry by a mere four-tenths of a percentage point. As a critical state tottering on the precipice of common sense and mass delusion, we were treated to a massive rally that packed West Washington Avenue for blocks, featuring John Kerry himself and 80,000 supporters from all walks of life.

This afternoon, as a critical state that has stepped back from the edge of madness, assessed the drop and built a house in the valley instead, we were treated to a rousing pep talk that packed the capitol steps, featuring... John Kerry... and some college kids...

And I had high hopes, too, for the late October rally I had pictured in my head for this year. I'm sorry, but after the 2004 let-down that followed the single most exciting event of my adult life to date, I was thrilled by the idea of replacing that memory with one of Barack Obama, his preacher's voice booming across city blocks, whipping the crowd into a delirious frenzy and shaking off the icicles of despair that have accumulated these past eight years.

So if you get a phone call from a pollster in the next couple of weeks, you tell them you're undecided. Because Obama's speech at the Kohl Center in February was fantastic -- it's the kind of thing that will keep you talking until the November 4th election. But a Barack Obama speech in the 2008 election home stretch could be something to tell your Grandkids about someday.

We still have a lot of work to do to bring Wisconsin in for Barack Obama -- like Kerry said at his rally today, vote early, and then TALK TO PEOPLE about who they're voting for, or whether they're voting at all -- but we've covered a lot of ground as well. And damnit, we deserve to be in on the celebration in the final days before what will hopefully be a long-sought turning point for our country.

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