Saturday, November 1, 2008
Down on 6th and Main
Another day without walking. We meant well, but instead of exercise, we spent the morning under the steely gaze of this Secret Service man and others like him. (I have only just discovered this - if you click on the picture, it will become bigger and will give you a much better impression of his intimidatory presence).
We were scheduled to start our Evansville walking this morning. Lorenzo is a baker, part-time only these days. Like most bakers he starts work in the middle of the night, so he was not able to join us this morning. Instead, having kindly mapped out a route of nearly 5 miles for us (kilometres being unknown here in the USA) he drove us round it yesterday, while Gay took notes.
The intention was that we would arise as soon as it was light today and charge round the the new walk before breakfast. But politics intervened. To remind you, we love to visit our friends here, but the reason we chose this particular time is so that we can experience the presidential election at first hand.
I thought that meant that we would be absorbing the excitement of our friends and other people as the process nears and reaches its denouement. And that is happening. We have certainly never experienced, in Britain or Europe, the ferment, the round the clock coverage on television, the fact that the people are so involved and in discussion all the time, about the decision to be made. I think that elections are always a more intense process here but probably even more so this time, with the very real possibility that history may be happening as we watch, to the greater or lesser pleasure of all those able to cast their vote.
What we did not expect is to actually see one of the candidates in full flow. Yesterday we discovered that Senator Joe Biden, the running mate of Senator Obama and of course candidate himself for Vice-President, was to appear at a rally in downtown Evansville this very morning. He was scheduled to speak at 10 am, so Jane thought we should be in position by soon after 8. This was too good an opportunity to miss, also an opportunity which snookered the planned walk. Tomorrow, without fail.
The rally was held at the road junction of 6th Street and Main Street. I suppose we were standing in the middle of the junction, which was fenced off, of course, and with a stage erected in the middle. There was a succession of speakers, most running for office themselves, further down the Democratic ticket. Then there was Jill Biden, the wife of Joe Biden, who said she really liked the fact that we were outside the Historic Victory Theatre - she was impressed by the sound of that, and clearly thought it was an omen. Then came the Senator himself, who made an excellent, rousing speech before circling the foot of the stage to press the flesh, a feat he managed even though completely surrounded by Secret Servicemen like the one pictured above.
It struck me a little too late that if we had spoken to one of the advance men before the actions started, and told him that we had come all the way from France to witness the victory of Obama/Biden, we may very well have been treated to a special handshake and a few kind words from the great man.
It was an excellent experience, more than we hoped for during our election trip to the USA. Gay, who is much less interested in politics than I am, was clearly exhilarated by it all. It was so different than anything we have seen in the various countries in which we have lived. It brought back to me the period of my own pretty intensive involvement in politics and could only have been bettered by seeing Barack Obama himself, a clearly remarkable individual and also the best orator I have seen (not in the flesh) for many a long year.