In the heart of Ohio


Eric Rorer
November 1, 2004 1:35AM (UTC)

Just north of Columbus, there's an abandoned shopping mall. In the '80s it was the city's No. 1 shopping destination. Now the crumbling buildings are surrounded by chain-link fence and acres and acres of empty parking lot. For two days we canvassed the neighborhoods bordering this vision of post-apocalyptic suburbia. And everywhere we went, people cheered us on. Kids, 13 and 14 years old, pointing at us, pumping their fists, "Kerry!" Veterans of the Korean War, working in their yards, saying slowly and deliberately, "Well, I've been thinking about it long and hard, and yeah, I think I'm leaning Kerry." Single moms, grandmas, blacks, whites, Asians.

It's Sunday, and a beautiful time of year to be here. The leaves are brilliant, the temperature mild. Other days I canvassed the older neighborhoods on the west side of town. Century-old houses with porches and lawns, many of them boarded up and empty. Kerry-Edwards signs everywhere. Teenagers on the street corners in their baggy clothes, "Bush is killin' us out here. Dude has got to go."

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The polls may be close, but the feeling here is unprecedented. People are pouring in from all over the country to work the phones and walk the streets. All the Democrats say the pollsters are way off, missing the wave of new voters that will flood the polls on Tuesday. I'm not so sure, but I have to say I've never felt anything like this in America before. Just like Joni Mitchell used to sing, "You don't know what you got till it's gone." I think that's what people are feeling now, as they see "the nation we carry in our hearts" (thank you, Springsteen!) slipping away under this brutal administration.

I have no idea what will happen. The one thing I do know is that there's an energy in the country that wasn't there before. People are waking up.


Eric Rorer

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