Last Thursday I joined about 4,000 people at the Minneapolis Convention Center to see the “Five Days to Change Rally” with Bill Clinton, featuring Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.
Now I’m passionate about this election. So passionate that it’s been keeping me up at night, cursing loud enough for my neighbors to hear, while listening to an all-star cast of professional weasels and failed lobotomy patients exalting the likes of John “McRage” McCain, Sarah Palin, Norm Coleman and Michelle Bachman. Under normal circumstances, if it would guarantee an election sweep for Elwyn Tinklenberg, Keith Ellison, Al Franken and Barack Obama, I’d give my life savings. I’d cut off a minor appendage. I’d stop drinking Strongbow. That’s how much I care about this election. But, quite frankly, by the end of the rally on Thursday, I’d have given the same things just for a chair, 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen, and my mommy.
What a marathon, ill-conceived, demoralizing clusterf*ck that rally was. Counting standing in line, most people had been there for well over four hours by the time we limped out of there.
What took so long? Well, it turned out to be a little more than three exciting speakers. Most of that time was taken up by listening to the exact same speech paraphrased eight times, imploring, badgering and brainwashing us to spend the final five days before the election door knocking and calling people to get them to vote. It was, to put it kindly, f*cking absurd.
First we were talked at four times, starting with two teenagers, then a parade of officials including Mayor R.T Rybak and Congressman Keith Ellison. Then there was a 15 minute break. People in the crowd were already getting antsy. Looking at their watches, shifting their weight to relive the discomfort of standing on concrete. Some sat on the floor.
Then it was time for the main event. Whoops not yet. Actually, we heard the same volunteer sermon four more times, including from former VP Walter Mondale and, finally, Amy Klobuchar.
When Amy left the stage, there was a hopeful hush. Was it time for the Al and Bill Show? No, it was not. Instead, they played a babbling, 20-some minute video-taped speech by Al Gore, given almost a month ago when he swung through town.
Then there was a 20 minute break. Who the hell were all these breaks for? The audience was suffering from fatigue, boredom and in my case debilitating lower back pain. We didn’t need breaks, we needed dinner. Indeed, people were throwing in the towel and leaving. Many others were sitting or full-on sprawled out on the floor. This picture, taken during the second break, fails to capture the sea of people that had collapsed to the floor, because when I took it, I was too weak to stand myself. When volunteers and organizers mingled through the crowd trying to get people fired up chanting and clapping, most of us only had the strength to look up and scowl. They were losing the crowd, a crowd of rabid supporters, very fast.
Finally, Al and Bill came out together and, between the two of them, managed to breathe a little life back into the audience. They gave great speeches, but the momentum was hopelessly gone. The two were still on the stage waving their goodbyes as people lamely hobbled for the exits, elbowing past and avoiding eye contact with organizers with clipboards wanting to sign up volunteers.
My back was sore for two days. I might have volunteered if I hadn’t already felt that I’d done all I could physically do for the campaign by simply standing there until the bitter end.
So, since I did not door knock or call anyone, I’m posting this reminder for everyone to get out and vote tomorrow. We can’t get this ass-stomping done without everyone’s vote.
Also, I’m posting this to remind future rally organizers that their audience is not a bunch of indestructible robots. Next time, cut the goddamn running time in half, if you want anyone to leave the joint with anything on their minds other than food and convalescence.