Opinion: Obama’s speech—nearly missed

Jake Crissman

Jake Crissman

Jake Crissman is a sophomore English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Wednesday night, the most important person in the world was in Kent – no, not Oprah; no, not Ben Stiller – the President of the United States, Barack Obama. He addressed a multitude of students, faculty and plain citizens from the M.A.C. Center, stressing the importance of registering and voting in this election.

Festivities for this event kicked off early Monday morning as people lined up as early as 3:30 a.m. to get a ticket to see the president speak. I was in that massive line in the freezing temperatures for two and a half hours for my chance to receive a ticket. Excitement was high all week on campus in anticipation for the president’s arrival.

Wednesday morning, the line to the M.A.C. Center was just absolutely ridiculous, outrageous, incredulous, unbelievable or any other adjective you’d like to use. I got in line at around 2:00 (because I had a Spanish test that apparently just couldn’t wait until next week), and I was back by the Art Building and the Honors College dorms.

I stood in line for an hour before it seemed like we were beginning to make any progress. I stood in the pouring rain as my shoes were soaked through and my socks were drenched. My hoodie was thick and heavy with water, and my jeans stuck to me and began to stink with the dampness.

Everybody knows that wet jeans are no fun and that wet socks will ruin your day. Now imagine being in that state and standing in a godforsaken behemoth of a queue for almost four hours to no avail. As I had made it to the homestretch, the Esplanade, I could see the M.A.C. Center was within reach. I was almost there, almost at the finish line, the mountaintop. Then, all of a sudden, they tell us, “Sorry folks, we’re at capacity. But if you have a ticket, you can watch it live on a screen in the Student Center Ballroom.”

Oh, goodie, because that’s why I’ve waited so long and gotten drenched, to see the president on a screen and to not be in the same room as him. (Whoever’s responsible for the surplus of tickets given out should be fired and tarred and feathered – just saying.) I was tempted to try to persuade a cop to let me in by telling him that I write for the paper, but I doubted it would work. So I brokenheartedly made my way to the ballroom.

The crowd in the M.A.C. Center was psyched. They were pumped as Kent State College Democrats’ president Bryan Staul came out and gave a spiel on the American Dream and introduced Obama. As I watched, I wondered what it is that makes people withstand such terrible conditions only to be denied and yet still want to watch on some shoddy video screen. We all went in with high hopes of being present for the speech and seeing history in the making, but all of us in the ballroom came up short.

But as I watched, Obama’s words became uplifting, and everything that he was saying made perfect sense. Suddenly, it didn’t matter to me anymore that I wasn’t in there; I already know who I’m voting for this November, and being denied the opportunity to see him in person isn’t going to change that.

His speech reinforced all my political beliefs and reminded me why it’s so important to get out there and vote. Barack Obama is our guy, the leader for my generation. We must continue to move forward for a better tomorrow.