Today I was fortunate enough to attend today’s rally for Ed Markey with President Obama and a host of prominent local political figures. A more-than-overflow crowd turned out at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury: I was there by 9 AM though the printed tickets said 11 AM, and there were already hundreds, if not thousands, of people on line. We didn’t make it into the building until nearly 12, and nobody took the stage until almost 1, but everyone was in high spirits and it was well worth the wait.
Here’s a summary of the event with (more) pictures.
The festivities kicked off with two extremely cute little girls leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, and a fantastic rendition of the national anthem. Then new Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins took the stage, and began his remarks by reciting the preamble to the Constitution. This election, he said, implicates so many of those words. The choice Massachusetts voters make in thirteen days will determine whether we have a Senator who will “promote the general welfare,” the welfare of ALL our citizens. It will determine whether we “establish Justice” by working to eliminate discrimination in all its forms, or “domestic tranquility” by banning the assault weapons that threaten our communities.
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (who is due to have a baby in eight days), with a brief foray into Spanish, reminded the audience – and those who will be watching on the news later – that Latinos in Massachusetts want a Senator who shares their values, not their surname. Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley electrified the crowd with a rousing speech about the stakes in this election.
Mayor Menino spoke next. The Mayor was wheeled onto the stage and needed forearm crutches to reach the podium, visibly laboring with each step. He spoke from the heart about Ed Markey as a fighter for the type of country he wants to live in, and about government as a force to make people’s lives better. The crowd’s affection for the Mayor was obvious.
Next up was the candidate himself, and Markey was perhaps more fired up than I’ve ever seen him. He was filled with passion and a sense of urgency and promised to work 24 hours a day until the election (Tantrum!!!!) and to criss-cross the state bringing his message to voters. He spoke of his own experience living the American Dream, and squarely credited it to the great middle class revolution unleashed by the New Deal. Before 1932, he said, we had no safety net. As a result, his mother’s dreams were dashed when her own mother died and, as the oldest daughter, she had to leave school to take care of the younger children. In the 21st century, he said, we must move forward to an even better tomorrow for all of our people, not back to a pre-FDR world where a select few live in opulence and everyone else struggles to get by.
But the headliner, the reason for the quarter-mile of lines and the three hour wait in the street outside, was the President of the United States. President Obama joined Ed Markey on the stage and was greeted with boos when he began with a reference to the Chicago Blackhawks, who begin the process of losing the Stanley Cup Finals tonight against our Bruins.
The reception improved when the President exhorted the crowd not only to vote for Markey, but to knock on doors and make calls for him:
I’ve got to have folks in the United States Senate who are willing to stand up for working people. I need folks in the United States Senate who every day are waking up thinking about the people who sent them there, and trying to figure out, “How do I make sure that they are getting a brighter future?.” That’s who Ed Markey is. I need Ed Markey in the United States Senate.
So this election is going to come down to turnout. We’ve got a whole lot of Democrats in this state and a whole lot of Obama voters, but you can’t just turn out during a presidential election. You’ve got to turn out in this election. You can’t think, “Oh, I did my work in 2012.” You’ve got some work to do right now in 2013. You can’t just pat your back and say, “Well, I knocked on some doors back in November.” I need you knocking on some doors right now in June.
And if you work with the same focus and the same passion — if you are knocking on some doors and making some phone calls, if you’re talking to your friends and you’re talking to your neighbors — if you are making sure that people know Ed Markey’s remarkable record in Congress, then I guarantee you he will be the next United States Senator from Massachusetts. He’ll join Elizabeth Warren. He’ll carry on the legacy of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. He will be my partner, and we will continue the march forward on behalf of not just this generation, but future generations.
I’ve made my pitch before and I’ll make it again: Electing Ed Markey to join Elizabeth Warren in the Senate would create a one-two punch few states could match. Electing Gabriel Gomez would be a disaster. It would put Mitch McConnell that much closer to the job of Senate Majority Leader, it would cancel out Senator Warren’s vote on far too many issues, and – as Scott Brown’s January 2010 election did – it would fuel a national media narrative about Democrats in disarray and surging Republicans.
I don’t want that to happen. I want the progressive one-two punch instead. And that’s why I’ll be going all out between now and June 25. I hope you’ll be able to pitch in too!