I was raised in a neighborhood on the northwest side of Chicago where a cement curb outside our house still bears the words, “Fixed for Bob and Sharon’s wedding.” That repair was made forty years ago. My mother had warned the precinct captain that if the broken curb were not fixed by the date of my sister’s wedding, she was going to vote Republican in the next election…she voted Democratic.
Well, these days only one of us five siblings still lives in Chicago but Illinois politics has a long outreach in the state. Another sister, Carol, recently told me this story:
One morning about five year’s ago , Carol, who is legally blind, noticed a figure coming up to her house in downstate Illinois “I thought it was someone from one of those religious groups who try to get you to go to their church,” she said. “When the door-bell rang, I almost didn’t answer it.”
“I opened the door and there was an African-American guy with a big smile, a nice suit and a clipboard.” That much she could make out.
“Hi! I’m Barach Obama and I’m running for president of the Unites States,” he said. “But I need lots of signatures to get me on the ballot. Would you sign for me?”
She had never heard of him. “ O.K. I’d be glad to sign. But you’ll have to point to where I should sign. I have low vision,” she said.
“He showed me the place and I signed. He thanked me and gave another nice smile and left. I didn’t know who he was at the time,” she said.
She likes to tell this story of the time she signed her autograph for a future president.
I’m not sure Carol will vote for Barach Obama in this election and I am not sure she ever voted for him. But Chicagoans are used to a kind of politics that works because it is personal.
In Chicago, you can actually meet candidates and they listen to what you say. Obama learned Chicago politics and applied it to his campaign.