Nancy McCaskey spent half of a day in line Saturday so she and her daughter could see President Barack Obama speak.
The mother of two from Clifton, Va., walked from her house down the street to stand in line at 6:45 a.m., equipped with a folding chair and reading materials. As the fourth person in line, she spent three hours Thursday waiting for tickets and another 9½ Saturday waiting outside of the Centreville High School so her daughter, Kate, who is now 18 and a registered voter, could attend.
Her daughter has been ill with Lyme disease for five years, and McCaskey, 52, a stay-at-home mom, said she was worried Kate wouldn’t feel up to coming. Fortunately, Kate was well enough to join her before they were allowed to enter the school’s auditorium.
McCaskey said afterward that the wait was worth it for her daughter’s sake.
“She was pretty thrilled to be there,” McCaskey said. “It’s good to see her excited about the elections.”
McCaskey’s dedication to what she believes is her civic duty showed a side of politics that’s often overlooked. Too often, you think about those who take voting for granted, those who don’t take the time to educate themselves before heading to the polls – aka the scariest people in a democracy. McCaskey said she doesn’t care whether her daughter supports Obama; she wanted her to realize the importance of getting involved.
As McCaskey waited in the line that wrapped down the sidewalk, around the corner and back up through the school’s parking lot, a crowd of Mitt Romney supporters set up their post across the street.
Sporting homemade anti-Obama signs and shouting chants against Obama’s policies and viewpoints, the protesters asserted themselves as the louder group on the block. I was admittedly hesitant to cross to their side the street, though that didn’t last long. The first people I talked to were excited to be asked questions.
The demonstrators were preparing for the November election, local Romney campaign volunteer said Lin-Dai Kendall, 52, the owner of an architecture and interior design company in Fairfax Station.
“People have forgotten that the reason that America got to where it is, is because of individual and economic freedom,” Kendall said. “Four more years of this man will turn America into Greece, and we can’t afford to do that.”
She added that Obama’s shrinking of individual and economic freedoms cause her to lose sleep. That inspires her to take to the streets in support of her political beliefs.
Though their motives and initial energy levels differed, I realized the two groups across the street from each other had one thing in common – genuine concern for the future their nation.
Though I did hear a few heated conversations, each group was civil. Romney’s supporters were much more vocal outside, but the Obama crowd’s energy filled the auditorium. Their lack of vigor outdoors proved to be a method of conservation, which resulted in a rambunctious crowd once speakers started taking the podium.
In the end, talking to those people on each side of the road proved to be a very eye-opening experience. Hearing their stories and their passion for the success of the U.S. was inspiring. It was also telling of the political split among Americans. I left with more appreciation for anyone who takes a stand for what they believe in.