Yesterday, I and a coworker went to a rally for John McCain. It started out with odd directions and multiple turns and exits thanks to "Beverly" (what I dubbed my coworker's navigation system). But once we got on a road behind a car with an Illinois license plate and a McCain sticker, we figured we were headed in the right direction. I joked that that person must have had it with Obama.
When we pulled into the parking lot designated "event parking," which was located a couple of blocks from the school, we saw dozens of cars with McCain bumper stickers. After we parked, we saw numerous people with McCain-Palin paraphernalia, and we followed them to the chartered bus. A far cry from the area of Pittsburgh where I live. The mood was pretty festive on the bus and waiting in line outside the building once we got off the bus. There were at least a dozen Obama supporters across from the entrance, but the crowds on both sides were civil.
Once inside, we tried to get as close the stage as possible (we started out about 15 rows back and ended up probably eight rows back). But we were in for a wait. It was almost 3:30, the program was to start around 4:30, and John McCain was scheduled to arrive at 5:30. The time went fast, my hurting feet notwithstanding (I recommend tennis shoes). We talked to some people; they were young and old alike. Entire families. Some of the younger ones (college or high school; I cannot tell) seemed so enthused. When I was their age, I could not have cared less about politics, so that was kind of nice.
One little boy, probably 3 or 4 years old, excitedly shouted back "McCain" when a speaker uttered that name. At about 5 p.m., event staff started tossing out red, white, and blue pom-poms, signs, and some annoying balloon things. That got the crowd excited; everyone was really willing to share the things and pass them around. At that point, I felt as if I were at a pep rally.
Just before McCain arrived, a vet from WWII was asked to come on the stage with the other 30 to 50 people who were up there (the backdrop, so to speak). Some woman standing near us asked some event person if he could be up there. If anyone deserved to, it was this man who was at least 80. It was just that kind of crowd--friendly, excited, chatty. Not the racists that John Murtha said western PA is.
When John McCain and Cindy arrived on stage, the crowd went crazy. Most people cheered and booed when you would think. There were the expected "Drill, baby, drill," "Sarah," and "John McCain" chants. Neither Cindy nor John said anything I had not already heard. But it was just something to be a part of it. I shouted out, "I love you John" when he was speaking and the crowd was quiet, just so he could hear my voice (I used to do this at concerts--try to yell out when it was quiet--back when I liked to be the center of attention). Two more people yelled out the same thing after I did. When McCain said if he was elected president, someone yelled, "When, John, when!"
When his speech was over, he walked near where we were. You can see how close we had managed to get at that point. Unfortunately, I had only my camera phone, so the pics are pretty bad.
We ended up walking back to the parking area; based on the traffic and where the buses were, we figured we would be waiting about 30 minutes to get on one. And even then, walking back with others, it was as if everyone was friends. People young and old were so nice and helpful (we had to climb up a pretty steep hill).
I think it was a great experience; well worth taking vacation time and standing around for hours. For many moments I felt just as I imagined people who are really excited for their candidates feel. Finally.
I do think John McCain will make a good president. I am not sure if he will be a great one. He is certainly not perfect and not all of his policies are either. But I also am hopeful if Obama get elected, he will do just fine too. We really need to come together no matter who is elected. Let's hope we do.