On Friday Obama told a crowd of supporters in Oak Park, IL (myself among them) that this day with Beck was the most important day on the campaign trail for him thus far. His reason for believing that? Pauline Beck was "real" and they spent the day doing "real" things. He got to learn about her life, her hopes and dreams, her fears, and he got a sense of what her day was like and what he could do to better help her and the foster children she's caring for when he becomes President.
* Elise's diary :: ::
Obama started out after college as a Community Organizer in 1985. Taking a page from Saul Alinsky, Barack Obama was on the South Side, not in meat packing plants (as those were all gone), but in an area that was devastated by the loss of the Steel industry. Since these days Obama has been working with Communities to help those left behind find jobs that would provide a living wage and health care. Obama is familiar with the SEIU. He enjoyed their endorsement in 2004 in his Senate race. Here's some of what he had to say to them today:
"If the Democratic party means anything, it means standing with labor." He's sounding like a preacher today and can't speak for more than one minute without being interrupted by cheers.
"I'm tired to playing defense. The SEIU is tired of playing defense, Andy Stern is tired of playing defense. We're ready to play offense for the living wage, we're ready to play offense for secure retirements. We're ready to play offense for some universal health care."
When I saw him on Friday, Senator Obama promised to pass universal health care by the end of his first term. He made that same promise today to those at the SEIU. They were so excited for him their chants went well into the introduction of Governor Richardson, whose presentation followed.
You can watch the webcast
of his speech here.
And Obama shows he's willing to point out the facts about some of his opponents in the primary:
"It's time we had a Democratic nominee after the primary who doesn't choke saying the word 'union.' It's time we had a Democratic president who says the word 'union' once in a while. Come on, it won't kill you."
To that I can only say, "Hell yes!"
And what will a President Obama do if he hears workers' rights are being stomped on?
Well, exactly what any good progressive would do, "I'll have to find a comfortable pair of shoes."
Senator Obama is at home with this crowd. These are the folks he's been working with since 1985. The goal of the last 20+ years? To lift everyone up together. He knows what it is like to watch someone die from lack of proper health care. As his mother was dying of cancer she worried about whether or not insurance would cover those medical bills. Would they determine the cancer to be a pre-existing condition? Is this what we want any person to have to worry about in their last months? That's not the America I want and I doubt it's the America you want.