- "Stakes could not be higher," said President Obama as Democrats Mayor Tom Barrett and Sen. Russ Feingold address 1,000s in Madison belying an alleged political enthusiasm gap.
[Check out MJS's photo slide show by Benny Sieu—killer shots.]
From The Obama Mamas:
Think about it, when I arrived in Washington 20 months ago, my hope and my expectation was that we could pull together, all of us as Americans - Democrats and Republicans and independents - to confront the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. I hoped and expected that we could get beyond some of the old political divides between Democrats and Republicans, blue states and red states, that had prevented us from making progress for so long because although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans. (Applause.)
And this country was confronting a crisis. Instead, what we found when we arrived in Washington was the rawest kind of politics. What we confronted was an opposition party that was still stuck on the same failed policies of the past, whose leaders in Congress were determined from the start to let us deal with the mess that they had done so much to create.
Because their calculation was as simple as it was cynical - they knew that it was going to take a long time to solve the economic challenges we face. They saw the data. They were talking to the economists. They realized that Obama was walking in and we had just lost 4 million jobs in the six months before I was sworn in; 750,000 jobs the month I was sworn in; 600,000 jobs the month after that; 600,000 jobs that month after that. So before our economic policies could even be put into place, we’d already lost most of the 8-million jobs we would lose.
And they knew that people would be frustrated. And they figured, if we just sit on the sidelines and just say no and just throw bombs and let Obama and the Democrats deal with everything, they figured they might be able to prosper at the polls.
And that’s what they’ve done for the last 20 months. They have said no to just about every idea and policy I’ve proposed - even ideas that historically, traditionally, they agreed with. So now the pundits are saying that the base of the Republican Party is mobilized. The prediction among the pundits is this is going to be a bloodletting for Democrats. That’s what they’re saying in Washington. ...
So what the other side - you know what the other side is counting on this time around? They’re counting on you staying home. They’re counting on your silence. They’re counting on amnesia. They’re betting on your apathy, especially because a lot of you are young folks.
So Madison, you’ve got to prove them wrong. (Applause.) Let’s show Washington one more time, change doesn’t come from the top. It doesn’t come from millions of dollars of special interest-funded attack ads. Change happens from the bottom up. Change happens because of you. (Applause.) Change happens because of you. Change happens because of you. (Applause.)