Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

The Whole World Is Watching

Originally posted to blockquote.org on in Chicago, Illinois

This afternoon I stripped my wallet of all but my driver’s license, credit card, CTA card, and enough cash to get home should the rest be lost. My keys rest as always in my left pants pocket, and in the breast pocket of my coat are my phone, a notebook, and a pen. These and my clothes, and I’m off to Grant Park, where at 8PM Central the Obama campaign culminates in a rally expected to draw a crowd numbering between 100,000 and a million. The best estimates of Chicago’s best informed officials fall still far short of a precise notion of just what exactly will happen tonight.

The city has planned for the worst, canceling off-time for police and prescribing keeping riot gear close at hand. I don’t know quite what I’m walking into tonight. I want to think the tone of the night will be as positive as Obama insisted his campaign be, which is to say, while not exemplifying all that is best in our politics, has been more positive than Americans expect from our elected representatives. I am cautiously optimistic.

It’s not every four years an American presidential election reaches your backyard. To Obama’s credit, the noted theatricality of his public appearances bears more than symbolic meaning — if not yet the Blessed Community, a nonetheless diverse community packed shoulder to shoulder in common purpose unlike this country has witnessed in a generation, let alone taken part in. Tonight I cannot imagine watching this election end from the comfort of my couch. This is one I want to feel at short range, bruised if bruises come.

However the day ends, I will have made an effort to join this community, if even for a few hours, with the whole of what I know myself to be — my body, intellect, and hope — and have no doubt I’ll emerge with these same parts intact and still in my possession. I am, again, cautiously optimistic that the world will not end tonight. We’ve made it through worse.

See you tomorrow.