Ushering in history?
Posted Tuesday, November 4 at 09:29 pm CT by Mike Stuckey
Filed under Seattle
Rick Graham and Rosemary Irvin wave Obama signs at traffic on Interstate 5 in Seattle. (John Brecher / msnbc.com)
On a day they hoped would end in history being made by U.S. voters, Rosemary Irvin and Rick Graham huddled in the chilly air high above
traffic-choked Interstate 5 and made a little history of their own.
to each other until they met in the noon hour on an overpass in the
city’s University District, the pair of graying but well-preserved baby
boomers joined forces to take direct political action for the first
time in either of their lives.
later, with the setting sun barely peeking through the heavy cloud
cover, they were still waving their blue-and-white Obama-Biden signs
at the passing, often honking, motorists below.
“I never thought I would be standing on an overpass waving a sign,” said Irvin, 57, an attorney.
While Irvin has given some thought to the historical significance of a black U.S.
president, she is quick to say “that’s only one aspect of it.” Sure,
the election of Sen. Barack Obama would break the ultimate race
barrier, she said, and his perspectives and experiences as the son of a
black African father and white American mother can only help him
understand and negotiate many complex issues.
important to Irvin, however, is Obama’s expertise in constitutional
law and awareness of the “overexpansion of the powers of the executive”
that she believes President Bush has undertaken. “I’m terrified of more
of the same, terrified of the direction Bush and Cheney have taken the
country,” she said.
“demonstrated a willingness to be true to his own principles,” she
added. “He loves America and he wants to do a good job for all
sign-waving capped an emotional election year for the 61-year-old
trade magazine writer who started out firmly in the Hillary Clinton
camp. After he saw Obama’s speech on race in the wake of the Rev.
Jeremiah Wright controversy, “I sat in front of my TV and I cried,” he
said. “I’ve never even been affected by anything any politician ever
said until he made that speech.”
U.S. race relations are especially important to him because “it’s the
old saying -- united we stand and divided we fall. We’ve got to get over
this race thing once and for all. … If we can elect Obama, we can say
to black people in this country, ‘It’s possible.’”
The new friends said they planned to wave their signs “until we freeze,” Irvin said.
Although they had heard plenty of predictions that Obama would be victorious, they were taking nothing for granted.
know what I’ll do if he loses,” said Graham, a Vietnam vet who said he
respects Sen. John McCain’s military service but doesn’t find it much
of a presidential qualification. “I’ve always loved this country, but
it would be hard for me to understand how the majority of people could
turn their backs on common sense,” he said.