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“Don’t Boo. Vote!”: Obama Returns to Nevada as Nevada Democrats Get Out the (Early) Vote

After a blockbuster weekend of early voting, Nevada got another day in the spotlight thanks to a visit by former President Barack Obama. Speaking to an audience of about 2,000 at UNLV’s Cox Pavilion, Obama stressed the importance of voting as he rallied the crowd for Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson), Steve Sisolak (D), and other local Democratic candidates.

So what else did Obama say today, and will it motivate more voters to turn out?

It’s Day 3 of early voting. How are we doing so far?
Photo by Andrew Davey

While former Vice President Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump were rallying their respective party faithful in opposite ends of the Silver State (Las Vegas for Biden, Elko for Trump), thousands of Nevadans repeated their time honored tradition of ignoring Jon Ralston’s advice and voting as soon as the first polls opened. As of today, the Secretary of State’s office has counted just over 85,000 Nevadans who voted early over the weekend.

With all but one county reporting, Democrats currently hold a 4.97% turnout lead over Republicans thanks to big turnout in Clark and (especially) Washoe Counties. It’s a huge improvement from 2014, when Democrats fell well behind Republicans in early voting; and it’s so far a little better than 2010, when Republicans and Democrats were nearly tied in early vote turnout.

So will this be enough for the “blue wave”? That remains to be seen, but Democrats are taking no chances as they bring in their “A-team” to rally party faithful while the polls are open.

“We need you to stand up and show up. Do it for our children. They’re watching what you’re doing.”
– Gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak (D)

One common theme today was that of “taking our country back”. As Rep. Dina Titus said before Obama took the stage, “It’s our country, too, and we want it back. We are here, and we are strong, and we are fighting back.”

Another theme was that of restoring American values. As NV-03 candidate Susie Lee (D) put it, “[Democrats] are the party of equality and opportunity. […] We are the party of family values because we value all families.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

And yes, the other big theme of the day was showing up to vote. Clark County Commissioner and Gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak (D) didn’t mince words when he declared, “We need you to stand up and show up. Do it for our children. They’re watching what you’re doing.”

“I want to get just one thing out of you: Your vote.”
– Barack Obama
Photo by Andrew Davey

After Sisolak finished his speech, he turned the stage over to Jacky Rosen. After she repeated many of the same points on Heller’s record that she made at the Culinary Union rally last Saturday, Rosen asked the audience to think of the next generation as they cast their votes:

“In the future, they will ask where you were when all of this was happening. You can say that you stood up, you stood out, and you fought back.”

Rosen’s final pitch led into Obama’s speech. Ever the professor, the 44th President thoroughly explained the reason behind his request: “I want to get just one thing out of you: Your vote.”

Obama then said, “The consequences of you staying home would be profoundly dangerous for our democracy.” As the former President then began to list his many disagreements with the current President, Obama also explained why America’s current (“small d”) democratic crisis isn’t just Donald Trump‘s fault alone. For Obama, “Power in America isn’t just about one person.”

Rather, Obama cut to the heart of the doctrine of Trumpism that’s taken hold in the Republican Party: “They appeal to tribe. They appeal to fear. They tell you order and security will be restored if you don’t let them in.”

“Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t matter. […] Don’t complain. Don’t throw up your hands. Don’t boo. Vote!”
– Barack Obama
Photo by Andrew Davey

As Obama recounted the challenges of his presidency, especially when it came to his struggles to satisfy the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he again warned the crowd not to let their frustration turn to cynicism and apathy. For Obama, “The threat to our democracy is not just one person in the White House. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism.”

Rather, Obama brought a new twist to one of his most classic lines: “When you vote, good things happen.” He continued, “That power rests on your hands. Yes, you can!”

Obama later ended his speech with another classic line: “Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t matter. […] Don’t boo. Vote!”

We’ll see in the next ten days, then on November 6, how many Nevadans ultimately take Obama’s advice.

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