Forest Whitaker Trains Denverites in the Way of the Caucuses, Samurai
I’m a walking Obama schwag-pack right now. If you punched me in the stomach, I’d spit up a sheet of red, white and blue, “Standing with Obama,” stickers. If you grabbed me by my New Balances and shook me upside down, dozens of Obama buttons would fall out, much to the delight of the shrieking children who would scamper out from nowhere, retrieve said buttons, and then dart back from whence they came, scurrying off into dark alleyways and beneath manhole covers. Someone should look after those children you would then say and I would tell you about how Obama’s education plan urges early care and education for infants, so that they’re ready for kindergarten and don’t get left behind to live in the sewer, eating whatever political buttons they come across. Then I would spew talking points like how, while both in the statehouse and in Washington later as a Senator, Obama “reached across the aisle” to pass historic ethics reforms. Why am I blessed with such magic abilities, you ask? Because I am a Barack Obama Precinct captain.
Cower before me!
It all started when my good friend, a politically minded rapper for one of Denver’s most popular bands – let’s call him Robocop 4 – left a message on my cell phone last week saying that he had a question for me. I figured he, like so many other MCs, was calling for my expertise in crafting rhymes, so I happily returned the call. But Robocop 4 had a hidden agenda.
Fucking Robocop 4.
“Hey, Adam, you’re supporting Barack Obama, right?”
He knew that I was. We had discussed the exciting speech that the candidate had delivered at the University of Denver just a few days prior, how great the climate of political fervor was in our city and our state right now, how interesting it was to finally be a part of Super Tuesday, to have a chance to participate in a caucus that actually mattered, particularly after a lifetime of voting experience that consisted of no-your-vote-for-Gore-doesn’t-count-you-live-in-a-red-state, then the same four years later, except with Kerry. We also discussed our fondness for run-on sentences.
“Get to the point, Robocop 4!” I bellowed. “You know I don’t have time for this nonsense!”
He told me that my neighborhood, Baker, a hipster/Mexican enclave, was sorely lacking in Obama precinct captains. My neighborhood is quite liberal and everyone I had talked to in the past few weeks had been absolutely Obama-crazy. So it seemed disturbingly all-talk-no-action of us that there were no precinct captains in my ‘hood. So despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing, I signed up.
That was Thursday. Yesterday was Monday. And I still had no idea what I was doing. Over the weekend I went to Obama headquarters, I received a list of registered Democratic, known-Obama supporters in the precinct that I am nobly captaining and I called most of those supporters to urge them to come to the caucus. I received a small book titled, “The Blueprint for Change,” that outlines the man’s policies, and I learned that many of the girls that work at the Denver Obama headquarters are hot. But walking into East High School – my alma mater – for a caucus training yesterday, I still didn’t have a clue.
Fortunately, neither did anyone else. But the room was chock full of people eager to find out. Well, that or people there to see Forest Whitaker. Forest Whitaker!?! That’s right, Forest Whitaker. Because Obama has such clout and appeal these days that he can up and call on Academy Award winners to stump at caucus training in Denver, Colorado and they’ll actually say yes! But before Ghost Dog spoke, an Obama volunteer broke down the caucusing system step by step, from precinct split-offs to straw polls to preference polls, and I can honestly say I now understand the entire, archaic caucusing system better (though my role as precinct captain in it is still quite uncertain to me; at this point, I intend to hand out stickers, talk to people about why I like the man, drink surreptitiously throughout the night, and hope there is someone there more qualified).
Then it was Forest Whitaker time! Before a crowd that consisted of DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet, Colorado House of Representative Terrance Carroll and Colorado Senate President Peter Groff, among other notables, Whitaker gave a speech that was at times engaging and fascinating but at other times absolutely terrifying. Like, at one minute, it seemed as if he was your best friend, and then the next minute, it really seemed like he was going to kill me! At one minute, he’s all, "I love your country. It’s great. I traveled there." And then the next minute, he’s screaming, and there were fucking cars exploding everywhere!
Sorry, that was The Last King of Scotland.
Whitaker was engaging and heartfelt, if at times looking a bit tired – the man is on a steady stumping-diet – but he called the election “the most important of our lifetime” and talked about traveling around the world and having to defend George Bush’s America to foreigners who hated us, and how he thinks Obama’s take on “human issues” would do much to change world perception. Then it was over. And while everyone snapped photos and shook the man’s hand, I walked off into a snowstorm, back down the path to the parking lot that I walked so many days as a younger East High Angel.
Super Tuesday was mere hours away, and there I was a precinct captain, just hoping he didn’t fuck this up.