There are times when covering a political event ignites the imagination of what Robert F. Kennedy said, “Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not.”
Such a moment occurred on Friday night. The place was the Curris Center upon the Murray State University, third floor ballroom. The time was 6: 38 pm. June 21, 2013. The mood of the crowd was very somber and reserved. It felt as if a small slice of apprehension (not fear, at least not yet) or self doubt sat next to each Democrat’s dinner plate forks and plate.
Alison Lundergan Grimes arrived and got about twenty feet into the ballroom before a small crowd of some 12 to 15 people gathered around her. With each person, Alison took their hand, shook it, then held onto it as if they were the most important person in the world. She also held direct eye contact with them as she listened to their concerns, questions or hopes that she would run against Mitch McConnell.
Even for someone as well versed with the dynamics of greet and meet skills, I fully appreciated Alison’s stamina. Yet, as powerful of a presence that Alison commands upon entering the room, she came face to face with an even greater force on this night. That force was vision and hope, unbounded.
Evelyn Hudson, age 17, had quietly waited her turn to talk to the great lady. Minute after minute, she stood very still with a nervous smile on her face, preparing to be next in line to shake Ms. Grimes’ hand.
Alison moved quickly through the small gathering of well wishers and supporters. When the last senior citizen faded away, Alison, the candidate, came face to face with Evelyn, the student. For a split second in time, their eyes registered the other’s existence and purpose in life.
Quickly Alison reached out and hugged the younger woman. The scene made me stop to consider here was a major force within the Kentucky Democratic Party stopping to hug a teenager. Still holding hands, they quickly exchanged ideas, visions, and hope for what the future would be or could become. Then they did a high five.
The tall lady from Central Kentucky seemed to have found a younger model of herself, here in West Kentucky. Later on this night, the lady from Frankfort and current Kentucky Secretary of State, would point her finger at the crowd and challenge them to be ready for the fight ahead. She would remind them of their heritage as part of a great legacy. She spoke of those who had crafted America’s social contract to help all Americans, not just the rich and powerful to a better life on this planet.
Near the end of her speech, she stopped and gathered her voice to softly say, “And here tonight, is one Evelyn Hudson, age 17, sitting beside her grandmother. Her generation is what we are about to fight for as Democrats.”
I thought to myself, “Yes, you are so right. Here’s the voice of a leader in her thirties asking for help from someone twice her age to save the world for those a third of their ages.”