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April 21st, 2008
08:44 PM ET

In America's birthplace: democracy

Maureen Miller

360° writer 

 

I spent the weekend in Philadelphia as a tourist.  Yet, as I visited the city’s great sights, with no regret I often thought of work and tomorrow’s Pennsylvania primary.  Here’s why: The city that’s the birthplace of our nation is buzzing with enthusiasm for the Clinton-Obama showdown.  And that was a great sight, too.  

 

Everywhere I went, supporters of both senators were out in force. On Saturday, in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall, Hillary Clinton supporters gathered with signs that read “Honk for Hillary.”  On the city’s famed South Street, near the crowd on line outside Jim’s Steaks, I saw Barack Obama supporters selling their candidate to young voters.  And everywhere in between I saw people wearing Clinton or Obama pins, stickers & T-shirts.   

 

There’s more.  

 

 

As I walked down Market Street, I spotted a lot of Obama ads at bus stops.  There seemed to be one at every corner.  When I turned on the TV I saw several Obama ads, none for Hillary. He’s spending a lot more on advertising in Pennsylvania and it shows.

 

There’s also the changing voting demographic. I grew up about 40 miles north of Philadelphia, in Bucks County. The area was once a Republican stronghold. No more. It’s gone blue.  For the first time in 30 years, Democrats outnumber Republicans.  Thousands of voters have joined the Democratic Party to vote tomorrow.   

 

Sure, the switch may be temporary. But people are getting involved...never a bad thing.  If EVERY eligible voter hits the polls, that would really be something.

 

And, there’s another tactic at work – the phone calls.  These past few days, my mom has done a lot of “chatting” with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and their supporters.  “Somehow they got my phone number and they’re not shy about calling for my support,” she says, with a laugh. “The phone never stops ringing.”

 

Yes, this is democracy in action.  And seeing it here made me wonder: Is this what our nation’s forefathers had in mind when they gathered in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago to debate and sign the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?   

 


Filed under: Maureen Miller • Raw Politics
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Taj

    Democracy is really great. But sometimes it does not work for the good of people. Look at GW, a democratically elected President of US. He did screw up this country pretty good. We have to get wise to elect smart people. Let us do it this time.

    April 22, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  2. Annie Kate

    Historically, the founding fathers didn't trust the "average joe" to make wise choices when it came to President, etc They were pretty elitist mostly wealthy landowners and merchants. That's one reason we have the electoral college in our general election – it was a buffer between the people and the ultimate choice as well as a way to even out the vote between highly populated states and sparsely populated states. Not everyone had a vote either – only white males of a certain age who owned a certain amount of property. The campaigns were pretty raucous affairs with each candidate at times offering plenty of liquor for their supporters; some supporters played both sides of the fence (remember they saying – vote early, vote often). At times campaigning got so rough that duel challenges would be issued. So the campaigning we see now is tame compared to the campaigning that used to go on in the 1800s.

    The Constitution has evolved with the country over the last 200 years and I think the founding fathers would be greatly surprised that the Constitution is still in force, still a living document, and gratified that what they started with the Revolution and Declaration of Independence and the Constitution has survived to become one of the largest and powerful nations in the world.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 22, 2008 at 1:25 am |
  3. jimmy vekmen

    THIS ELECTION IS ONE FORTHE HISTORY BOOKS. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. IT HAS BEEN A LONG STRUGGLE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. I BELIEVE IN THE TENACITY
    AND PERSISTENT FAITH AND COURAGE OF HILLARY..
    A FEW MONTHS AGO SHE WAS BEING SHOVED BY CHRIS DODD
    AND LEAHY TO GIVE UP HER FIGHT . THESE TWO SENATORS TOOK IT UPON THEMSELVES TO PRE-EMPT OBAMA AND THE DNC..
    SEEING THE MISTAKE OF THE TWO SENATORS, OBAMA STEPPED IN AND UPSTAGED THEM. AND SAID hILLARY SHOULD STAY IN THE RACE AS LONG AS SHE WANTS. OLD POLITICIANS WITH OLD STYLE IDEAS SHOULD STAY OUT OF MODERN DAY POLITICS.

    April 22, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  4. Smoothie

    I really don't think the forefathers would care for what America has become in some aspects, especially the "my way or the highway" brand of politics initiated by the current Administration. I do think they would love what the internet has and can do for ordinary people – to have free access to ideas, information and to share such with others. I truly believe "the people" have allowed politics to become corrupt to the point where "average Joe" has no chance of becoming a representative of a local, state or national district. If you look at the Senate or the House it's filled with wealthy people who got there through their wealthy connections, that of course expect favors in return. It's all a big sell, "branding" as marketing 101 teaches. So, is it any wonder that laws are passed to favor corporations and take away liberties from "the people." America is becoming less for the citizen and more for the corporation – an argument John Edwards made essential to his now defunt political platform, but one which most people were too afraid to do anything about but acknowledge and move on to mainstream politics. This is where the new technologies, like the internet, at least offer hope that everyone has a voice, a medium to learn and hopefully will make better decisions for themselves and their communities. I think the guys in Philly 200 years ago would have really liked a little wireless internet action, and less supression of ideas and debate. The signs, hats, t-shirts along with all the other modern-day political "clap your hands together" blather probably wouldn't give them much traction, even with cleats. Cheers from 'Nooga!
    Smoothie

    April 21, 2008 at 9:30 pm |