I served as the Assistant Director of Production at the now Dolby Theatre (then the Kodak Theatre) in Hollywood from 2005 to 2009. In late January of 2008 I witnessed with a small group of people a moment that I consider one of the most remarkable moments of American History. Little did I know that was just the beginning of thousands of moments that would take place in the next four and nearly ten months ahead.
I was there with only a handful of people to see then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton walk into the Kodak Theatre's backstage. They were about to engage in their first of many one on one debates for the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. This was the California debate and it had been a slightly frenzied day for all of us at the theatre.
There were supposed to be THREE candidates debating that night but one of the THREE had ended his campaign for some reason that morning. John Edwards had stopped running for President. The feeling was that he wasn't going to prevail and his candidacy was in debt and so and so on. Nobody save a few on his staff had even an inkling on the real truth. Because of his sudden departure we had been busy.
The set which was an clear acrylic table was made for three. It had to be carefully altered a little to accomodate just TWO candidates. So the carpentry department was working on that and the lighting people were resetting the lights. All got done of course because I was so fortunate to work with the best crew in any theatre anywhere and the people from CNN roll quite easily with change. Its their business for goodness sake.
It was a live event, the CNN Presidential Debates for California and it was one of many exciting and breathtaking moments I witnessed as the backstage manager for the theatre. Airtime approached and now all that had to happen was to have the candidates come to the backstage and to await their entrance. The doors swung open and there they were.
Senator Barack Obama was to Senator Hillary Clinton's left as they entered the area together through double doors made already famous from other live events such as the Oscars and American Idol finals but now it had been made historic. I suddenly realized to myself, "One of these two people WOULD be the next President of the United States."
Turth be told I was a Clinton supporter but at that moment I didn't care. I was an American and our next President was in front of me. I couldn't believe my good fortune to have had the chance to witness this moment. Think about it. Regardless of your Political Persuasion this was unprecedented.
In the past we had had other candidates that were people of color and other women run but this time one of them had a real chance to win. Hundreds of thousands had already voted for them in many states before this date and millions would vote after this date. In January of 1988 it was impossible to even dream such a day would come in my lifetime. It was no longer an impossible dream. It was really happening.
They had a few minutes until air and they went around shaking everyone's hand except mine. I could've easily shook both their hands as they were making it point to do so with everyone but I held back and decided I would observe. That was my job. Not quite what the malevolent observors do on Fringe but I was there only as a faciltator when needed. Otherwise I kept out of the way of any event and I did again.
Soon it was time and Wolf Blitzer walked out an made his introductions. The Senators stood just offstage behind the curtain and gave a look to each other. Both smiled and wished the other, "Good Luck." and then they stepped out onstage to tumultous applause that had thunder in it. The applause lasted for a while because everyone in the audience and all the millions watching on television and steaming online (we didn't have other devices quite with the ubiquity that we do now) knew that this was a moment that would never happen again in American history. Two viable candidates that were not white males were about to debate each other for the nomination of their party for President of the United States.
I consider for many reasons that moment a miracle for me to witness first hand. As I go to vote today and return home to await the outcome of this election I will reflect all day and for the rest of my life how remarkable it was to have been there. Whatever happens today the last four years have been the most remarkable four years for our country in my lifetime. Anyone who reads this column know where my hopes are today. Regardless I am blessed to be an American. So are you. If you are reading this on November 6th and you haven't done so GO AND VOTE!!! If you're reading this after the election I hope you voted because everytime we do we make new American history!