I vote for Barack Obama at the Bus

T.A. Barnhart

Others have waited longer, and others have invested more. I only became involved 5 years ago when an unknown former governor of Vermont spoke out against Bush's proposed war with courage and fierce determination. I joined the national grassroots effort to make Howard Dean the Democratic nominee. And when ths campaign ended, I gave even more time and energy to elect the nominee, John Kerry. The loss in 2004 hurt so badly: that was not only an election we should have won, it was an election we needed to win.

Since then, I have been hard at work on the most important campaign of all: grassroots democracy. Government led by citizens, democratic activists changing the nation and the world from the bottom up. No organization epitomizes that kind of politics better than the Bus Project. The Bus is entirely about grassroots politics. The people who come on board to lead are not political pros but young believers who have skills and an insane amount of energy to give to winning elections for progressive candidates and reshaping the political prospects for the future.

Over the past couple of election cycles, I have had the opportunity to ride the Bus a few times, including a weekend trip to the coast where we were hosted by the wonderful parents of soon-to-be-state-representative Brent Barton. But now that I live in Portland, I can ride the Bus almost every single trip. And I do. I've missed two trips this year, and one of those when I was on the new Bus heading to Denver for the Convention. I love the Bus, and as Henry is quick to point out, the Bus loves me, too.

So when I finally found the time to fill in my 2008 ballot, I knew where I wanted to be when I did it. This is a special ballot, a special election. I gave my support to Barack Obama early last year. I began writing for him, and when I moved back to Portland last summer, I began campaigning for him around the city with "Oregon Wants Obama!" I was an early supporter, and I took some grief for that. But in the end, I was right. He was the best candidate, and he is the right person this country needs to lead us out of the dark mire into which the nation allowed Bush et al to lead us. And tomorrow, we make it official.

I hope we do. I trust we will.

So after we finished phone banking tonight (and we kept going right thru the blackout, thanks to glowstix and cell phones), I got out my ballot and voted. I did it at the table where we put together materials for Trick or Vote!, where we met to plan trips to East County and other locales. Jay Trenery did me the honor of capturing the moment on my camera for me, and Garrett Downen did me the further honor of bearing witness to a special moment. Thanks to them both for their friendship, leadership and on-going kindnesses.

The Bus is the country's most progressive organization, the people are special, and I love being part of a journey that will never end. (Or, for the Robert Earl Keen fans among you, The Road Goes On Forever... but with a happier ending and a lot less criminal activity.) The Bus will be keep rolling on because of one simple fact: On November 4th, the campaigns for office end, and on November 5th, the campaigns for policy, law and the future begin. My vote tonight for Obama, Merkley and others was a privilege, a special gift few in the world get to share. I'm looking forward to the work and the journey that lie ahead. Being able to work daily and freely for democracy is also a gift few in the world get to share.

I'm not going to waste my gift.

  • (Show?)

    Um, Mr. Barnhart, are you sure you checked the box for Obama?

    Just kidding....

  • Courtney (unverified)
    <h2>I will add my applause. The Bus is the singularly most impressive and inspiring organization that I have ever had the privilege of being involved with. I applaud all of those that spend their time at the "Mothership" and miss you all so badly!</h2>

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