An Exhortation: 72 Hours

That's all the time left in this crazy election of ours. Certainly less than that by the time you're reading this. I'm writing from the home of an Obama supporter in Easton, Pennsylvania, who's kindly putting me up for the night so I can get started first thing tomorrow. Other Obama supporters brought fruit, baked goods, doughnuts, pizza, bottled water, and granola bars to our staging area today. Others made phone calls. Others tallied up the numbers from the walk lists. Thanks to two busloads of volunteers, I'm told that people from the Easton Obama office made 14,000 voter contacts today. The energy is amazing.

And underscored with desperation, because my goodness, November 5 will be depressing if McCain wins. The continuation of the Bush tax cuts, deepening our already horrendous fiscal hole; his erratic temperament; the militarism of his foreign policy; the lack of any decent policy on health care or education or energy; the likelihood of his being able to appoint more Supreme Court judges like Scalia and Thomas, vastly altering the scope of our liberties and even lives . . . Ye gods, people. The polls look good and we Obama volunteers are fired up, but we can't take anything for granted.

That is the negative argument for Obama. And the positive one is not just the man himself, his thoughtfulness and appreciation of nuance, his steadiness and lack of drama, or even his forward-looking policies, but this: We are the change we've been waiting for. Obama won in the primaries on the strength of the people who came out to caucus for him. The campaign has built the largest field and Get Out the Vote operation in the history of U.S. politics, on the base of funds from an enormous number of small-money donors. It's a campaign rooted in Obama's personal history as a community organizer, his belief that real change comes from people working together from the bottom up; and that belief has been lived out in the fact that an African-American man with the middle name "Hussein" has come this far and may actually be our next president of the United States . . . the best rebuke to the autocracy of George W. Bush I can imagine. As Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

So if you support Obama, if you don't want to see John McCain as president, you have to do something about it. Knock on doors. Make phone calls -- the tool at is a piece of cake to use, and most cell-phone services offer free weekend minutes. If you live in a swing state and don't want to make calls, find a local Obama office and take them food or drink or offer to give neck massages or answer phones there. Volunteer to drive voters to the polls on Tuesday. Donate money. Challenge any idiot who still believes he's a Muslim. Make undecided friends watch the Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interview and whisper, "A heartbeat away." At minimum, every expectation is that the lines on Election Day will be ginormous; resolve within yourself that you will be patient and good-natured and cast a ballot no matter what, and find ways to encourage this attitude in other people in line.

Today I told a woman on 7th St. where to find her polling location and helped a guy on Lehigh Ave. determine whether he's registered. We know from Florida in 2000 that every vote can make a real difference. For your own local voting information, check in here.

And then my friends and family members: This blog post is for you. Writers and Harry Potter fans: This means you as well. Random people on the Internet: Yep, you too. Less than 72 hours.

Yes We Can.