"We are choosing Hope over Fear."
January 3, 2018 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Ten years ago today, on a wintry night in a high school gym in Des Moines, freshman Illinois senator Barack Obama took the stage to eloquently claim a historic victory in the pivotal Iowa Caucus. But while the hard-fought win would lay the foundation for his incredible rise to the presidency (and offer a prescient glimpse into his accomplishments), the credit was not all his -- as he's happy to admit. So, in this winter of our discontent, join Crooked Media writer (and Obama alum) Chris Liddell-Westefeld as he lays out the oral history of this crucial election as told by the countless staff, field organizers, and first-time volunteers who threw themselves wholeheartedly into the arduous, long-shot effort that would change the world.

This day in MetaFilter in history

Reactions to Barack Obama on MeFi, 2007 vs. 2008 vs. 2010 vs. 2012

The top Obama-related posts on MeFi, 2007-2009

GroupNewsBlog: Pride and Palpitations
I don't mean to be a killjoy about what last night may have meant. In spite of my having not formally chosen a candidate I really feel strongly positive about, I'll be damned if I didn't feel something soul-deep special when they announced that Obama had won Iowa handily, and at that moment he geared up to speak, things did seem for a time like the climax to a crazy, pre-waking lottery-hit dream. I felt deliriously good about progressives in general when they gave the voting numbers for the caucus—Dems doubling the turnout damn near from '04, and tripling the GOP's mouth breathers in-state.

But I want you to understand what that nervousness and yes, I'll say it—fear was about as Barack Obama thanked his supporters and urged them onward. I don't know if you'll ever really understand it and why it comes so quickly to the fore for Black folks.
Matt Taibbi/Rolling Stone: Obama's Moment
Normally the sight of prospective voters muttering platitudes about "hope" and "change" would make any reporter erupt with derisive laughter, but at Obama events one hears outbursts of optimism so desperate and artless that I can't help but check my cynical instinct. Grown men and women look up at you with puppy-dog eyes and all but beg you not to shit on their dreams. It's odd to say, but it's actually moving.
Bob Herbert/NYT: The Obama Phenomenon
However this election turns out, Mr. Obama can be credited with a great achievement. He has drawn tons of people, and especially young people, into the political process. More than anyone else, he has re-energized that process and put some of the fun back into politics. And he’s done it by appealing openly and consistently to the best, rather than the worst, in us.
Charlie Pierce/Esquire: The Cynic and Senator Obama (previously)
There is one point in the stump speech, however, that catches the cynic up short every time. It comes near to the end, when Obama talks about cynics. Obama says that cynics believe they are smarter than everyone else. The cynic thinks he's wrong. The cynic doesn't think he's wiser or more clever or more politically attuned than anyone else. It's just that he fears that, every morning, he'll discover that his country has done something to deface itself further, that something else he thought solid will tremble and quake and fall to ruin, that his fellow citizens will sell more of their birthright for some silver that they can forge into shackles. He has come to believe that the worst thing a citizen of the United States of America can believe is that his country will not do something simply because it's wrong. It would be a mistake for anyone -- but especially for a presidential candidate -- to believe that the cynic thinks himself wise or safe or liberated. In 2008, the cynic is more modest. He considers himself merely adequate to the times.
Yes We Can - the famous music video that would go viral a month later (previously)

The Daily Show compilation of Obama's path to the presidency

With Obama's Win, What to Expect at Fox News (Video link)

ThisFuckingElection.com - a memetic capsule history of the tumultuous 2008 campaign (previously)
posted by Rhaomi (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
thanks obama
posted by entropicamericana at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

gross sobbing
posted by poffin boffin at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2018 [9 favorites]

Wow, ten years. I put in many many hours campaigning for Obama in the general that year and really thought that we'd won something that November. Little did I know how ephemeral that was.
posted by octothorpe at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

Lot of gold here, but that oral history of the ‘08 Iowa caucuses is fantastic. And inspiring in the present moment.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:10 PM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I will try to work my way through these links without weeping. Great post!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2018

Too depressing; can't read. So much longing for the old days.
posted by The Bellman at 1:13 PM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jesus, Obama looks so young in the header image.
posted by joyceanmachine at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2018

Wonderful stuff. Thank you.
posted by MovableBookLady at 1:38 PM on January 3, 2018

This is hard, looking back always is, but we have elections in 2018 that require the fire and ferocity of our wishes, hopes, and DEMANDS of better from not just the political establiment but of US as a people who are tired of being ground down. The stakes are existential.
posted by jadepearl at 1:42 PM on January 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

Chris L-W is a dear friend of mine and I'm so happy to see this posted here. I went wire to wire on the Obama campaign, starting in January 2007 before the announcement and before we even had an office. I was in Iowa from early November until the caucus. I wasn't a field organizer, but I so admired the incredible hard, grinding work those kids (and they were kids! I was 25 and the oldest person in the Iowa City office by a few years) did. This is a wonderful piece, and just what I needed to remind me of brighter days and the power of small groups of people to truly change the world.
posted by fancypants at 5:23 PM on January 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

And a collective sob was heard throughout Metafilter.
posted by vverse23 at 10:10 PM on January 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

yeah there's no way I can look at this. though I will say: field organizing is the best job in the world.
posted by dogheart at 4:18 AM on January 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Bookmarked for later. Cannot read with the orange one still around.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 1:46 PM on January 4, 2018

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