Michigan State University Chants “Go Green, Go Obama”

  • Published on October 3rd, 2008

On Monday a rumor started to spread around Michigan State’s campus. Barack Obama was coming to speak on Thursday, and the campaign had cleverly kept it under wraps until then. I don’t think we believed it was true until we saw the Secret Service yesterday hunched up on rooftops and in trees like snipers. I blew off all my classes to wait in line for four hours. And so did a lot of my peers – the line to get in wound throughout all of campus. Professors canceled classes and moved back tests, and about 20,000 people crammed into one of the smallest fields at Michigan State.

The excitement in the air was running high, even though we all stood squished up against each other for a few hours beforehand. It felt a lot like being in a mosh pit at a concert, actually. And after listening to a few boring stump speeches from Democratic candidates running for the MSU Board of Trustees (seriously, we came to see Barack) and the most political prayer I’ve ever heard from a priest, the man appeared at the podium.

Obama looked a little worn out, having come from Grand Rapids, Mich. from a rally earlier that morning, but he started out with a rousing “Go Green!” (our school’s chant) and broke right into a speech about the economy. It’s Michigan, so people here tend to care about the economy.

After the economy came the environment. In regards to climate change, he said we’re going to put the climate back how we got it for those who have to inherit it from us. He mentioned wind power, solar power and next generation biofuel as sources of alternative energy for this country. To our delight, he also said that research and development should be done right here in Michigan because we have good universities (he was well-versed in MSU, even saying that he needed to catch up with Tom Izzo, our basketball coach).

Comparing himself to JFK, Obama said he can’t be stopped in green energy and that we’re going to end foreign oil dependence in 10 years. And then he appealed to the young people, as we made up most of the excited crowd, saying something along these lines:

“Young people, I want you to get ready for this green economy. You’re going to be building the wind turbines and growing the switchgrass. We’re going to need your help and vision.”

It was a pretty good speech and got the crowd roused. But thinking back on it, he didn’t give any real clear-cut policy ideas for reaching all of these goals. The only subject in which he strayed close to doing that was the Wall Street crisis.

But at the same time, it didn’t seem to matter exactly what he said. It didn’t seem to matter that the Obama campaign passed out handmade MSU signs to give the rally a more authentic feel for the TV cameras. It didn’t seem to matter that there was a big bus accident near campus during his speech and we could hear the sirens in the background. It didn’t seem to matter that my feet hurt by end from standing on the tips of my toes the whole speech.

We were all there to catch a glimpse of the man, to maybe shake his hand – once he got on the podium he could have said anything and we would have eaten it up. We’re Obama-crazy at MSU, and we probably would have cheered wildly even had he gone on at length about “clean coal.”

And it definitely helped his case that we left the rally to find out that McCain has pulled out of Michigan.

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Photo Credit: Amanda Peterka

About the Author

My name is Amanda, and I'm a recent grad from Michigan State University. At MSU I was involved in the environmental journalism program and have written for the school's environmental journal and E, The Environmental Magazine. I'm delving into freelancing now, and will spend the summer in NYC as an intern at NYC Parks and Recreation.