I live in a heavily rental-oriented neighborhood in downtown Seattle. Renters are not, by-and-large, voters, and thus they are not generally campaigned to.

This evening, I stepped outside to take the trash to the dumpster. I’ve been listening to the Democratic convention speeches all week, generally with interest and sometimes with criticisms. Tonight, as I carried my dripping bag of refuse out, John Edwards was just entering the “two Americas” portion of his speech.

To my amazement, the speech did not fade into the distance as I approached the alley. Instead, it seemed to be coming from everywhere. I stopped and listened closely. From more than one apartment and backyard within a half-block radius of my house, my neighbors were tuned in to Edwards’ speech, volume up, as they prepared dinner or puttered in the yard. His voice echoed off the buildings in the summer sun.

I’ve lived in this neighborhood for fifteen years, under three presidents; it’s the kind of neighborhood where I still see Nader 2000 stickers and I doubt that a single person on my block is opposed to gay marriage.

But I have never, never known the neighborhood, collectively, to be so engaged in the national political state of affairs that they would listen to a convention speech in unity. I am amazed.