On Friday evening, I stood in line for more than 3 hours to see Barack Obama speak at the University of Oregon. There were so many people that my friends and I didn't get in, so we were diverted to the turf field behind Mac Court. The Senator came out onto the field to speak to us for about 5 minutes before he went into the arena, at which point my friends and I bolted back to my old co-op to watch the speech on TV. They were going to have the audio from the speech played out on the field, but the system was set up so poorly that we could hardly hear the Senator when he was out there.
But now I can say that I've seen a presidential candidate speak. I hope that I can say I saw a future president speak. The back of his head, at least. I don't regret all that time that I spent just waiting, but I probably would have regretted it if I hadn't gone. It didn't change my mind much just to see the back of his head, because I already support his message and would vote for him if he were the Democratic nominee (my first choice was John Edwards, but alas and alack!).
Which brings me to a dilemma of principles. Should I register for the Democratic Party so that I can vote in the primary or stay non-affiliated? (For effect, I wore a sweatshirt that said "Independent" to the Obama speech) When I registered to vote at 18, I sought advice from my teachers. One, a fellow Christian with a son in the National Guard, said that I was a Republican. The school librarian, a non-religious woman who I respect very much said that I was a Democrat. I researched each party carefully, even scouring the Pacific Green website and the Socialist Party USA website. The conclusion that I came to was that I didn't align with either party, so I registered non-affliated. I've taken a lot of pride in not being beholden to a political party, but I'm not sure that it's worth it. I don't plan on being a career Democrat, because I want to make sure that I'm not tempted to put too much energy into campaigning for individuals (policies, maybe). But Oregon is one of those "blue states" and Clinton family love runs strong here. Would being able to vote for Barack Obama be worth compromising my independent principles? Of what value are those principles anyway if I don't do everything in my power to change the state of the nation?