Support 100 years of independent journalism.

The voters’ campaign

The campaign is no longer about the candidates and their messages but the enthusiasm and turnout of

By Ashish Prashar

Manassas, Virginia is in the “real” America and yet, it was there that Obama held his final rally, turning out a crowd estimated at 90,000.

In some ways it was a sombre affair. Earlier that day, Madelyn Dunham, Obama’s grandmother, had passed away. Obama eulogised her in North Carolina.

“She was someone who was a very humble person and a very quiet person, she was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America,” Obama said at Charlotte rally, tears rolling down his face.

“In this crowd there are a lot of quiet heroes like that, mothers and fathers and grandparents who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives and the satisfaction that they get is seeing that their children or maybe their grandchildren or great grandchildren live a better life than they did. That’s what America is about. That’s what we’re fighting for.”

Obama hardly mentioned his loss in Virginia. The pain was his, not ours. But it settled heavily on the evening. Obama was subdued. Tired. He said what needed to be said. He launched his attacks and unleashed his applause lines and ran through the central message of the speech, which was and always has been: change.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

“The change we seek will not just come from government alone, it’s going to have to come from each of us,” Obama told the crowd of over 90,000. “Each of us has a role to play.”

Content from our partners
What are the green skills of the future?
A global hub for content producers, gaming and entertainment companies in Abu Dhabi
Insurance: finding sustainable growth in stormy markets

“I asked you to believe not just in my ability to bring about change, but in yours,” he said. “In this campaign I have had the privilege to witness what is best in America.”

However the hot coil of emotion that might have elevated his final speech was absent. It was just a speech but that was all that was required. The time for speeches is over. For two years, this election has been about the candidates. What they said and what they thought. What they did and how they looked. But the process has now barrelled beyond them.

It is now about the voters. What they have heard and what they have concluded. Whether they have formed a preference and whether they care enough to vote. This rally was not about the spent figure who stood on the stage, but the 90,000 who had left the quiet warmth of their homes to hear him speak. Obama might have been subdued, but the supporters’ very presence was evidence of their excitement. And at this point, it is their excitement, not his, that matters.