2012 DNC - An on-the-ground, personal view from a CA Delegate
I’m sorry I didn’t send email during the Democratic Convention this year as I did 4 years ago and I apologize for being so long getting something out. As a delegate this time, I was so busy during this convention that I didn’t have time to write. Then I was traveling for a week after the convention If you'd like to be added to my email list, sign up at http://www.amypearl.com/service.html. I ask for geographical information, so that I don't send Silicon Valley specific things to people who don't live here. In a separate email, I will send out some event and action oriented information. In the coming weeks, I may send out email more frequently than usual.
It was a fantastic experience and I thank each and every person in my congressional district who took the time and trouble to vote for me at the caucus and let me have this great experience as a California delegate. I did tweet a lot of comments and pictures during the convention – you can find them @amyparodi on twitter. I’ve also put up some of my photos here: http://tinyurl.com/8jwfuaj. Finally, I did manage to post a couple times on my blog and will post a more detailed description of my activities: http://www.blogher.com/member/amypearl.
Below I’ve written about
- What’s the Point When Everything is Decided Already?
- What the Logistics are Like
- Highlights of my Convention (with my favorite Quotes!) (including a link to the most amazing speech many people didn’t see)
Before I left for Charlotte, I talked to my voice of reason and experience, my 93 year old formerly Republican mother-in-law about the convention. She was disappointed in the Republican convention, thought people seemed unenthusiastic, and she hoped the Democratic Convention would be more exciting. On my return, she told me she thought people were very enthusiastic and there were some very good speeches, especially Bill Clinton’s. She says that the economy seems to be getting better, 4 years was not enough to repair the damage and that we should give President Obama another 4 years to improve things. She also says the race is very tight.
After the convention, I visited family (some former and current Republicans) in conservative Cincinnati, home of John Boehner in swing state of Ohio. None of them are enthusiastic about Romney, but the sense is that in general people are pretty lethargic and it might be hard to get out the vote. So, everyone, let’s not get complacent or locked in our information bubbles – let’s get out there and lock this thing up!
What’s the Point When Everything is Decided Already?
I had gone to the convention 4 years ago as a guest, not a delegate. This time I prepared ahead to attend a lot of events (I made a spreadsheet of activities to which I had invitations) and I understood better what the convention is really about. In addition to the 3 night prime-time PR the convention provides on broadcast TV, it’s like any professional conference: in addition to the information that the talks communicate, its purpose is also to bring like-minded people together to share experiences, make connections and build a community. Its goal is to educate attendees and to excite and motivate the grassroots and donors. Let’s just say, that worked on this "not-strong" Democrat!
What the Logistics are Like
The official convention events/venues: The convention itself was held in 2-ish locations. During the day caucuses (labor, LGBT, women, seniors, military, etc.) and exhibits were held in the Charlotte convention center downtown. At night (5pm to 11pm) voting and speeches took place in the Time Warner Cable Arena. The Convention Hall is open to the public, but credentials are required to enter a security perimeter around the Arena and to go into the Arena. There are a variety of credentials: delegate, guest, honored guest, press, probably podium speaker, etc. Within the Arena, there are sections dedicated to each of the state delegations. Up above the delegations are premium boxes for premium credentials, and then above them is everyone else. Four years ago, with Honored Guest credentials, I had to scramble each night to find some seat in the nosebleed section, along with ambassadors and large donors. This year as a delegate, I had a good selection of seats, along with other great CA delegates.
Thursday night, the night of the President’s acceptance speech, was supposed to be held in a large stadium, but because of impending storms and possible tornadoes, they moved it back to the Arena.
Other events/venues: Also during the day and evening, there are all sorts of unofficial events and activities, all over the city. Many of these venues were by invitation only. The high-end hotels right downtown close to the convention center and arena is where big donors typically stayed and where major donor events were held. The major news outlets set up broadcast stages and take over venues downtown near the arena and convention center to host events and also provide hospitality suites. There was one multi-story shopping complex on a corner, with a courtyard inside, where MSNBC, CNN and Bloomberg news had space. Bloomberg news took over a Golds Gym there and set up a stage for talks and panels, and also had refreshments and wireless access for guests. MSNBC had a stage in the courtyard from which they broadcast and also hosted concerts. CNN took over a restaurant right on the corner and had a hospitality suite there.
There were also parties and events hosted at other places around the city. The California delegation had a welcome event Sunday afternoon at the National Whitewater Center outside of town and, among others, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi hosted a party Monday night at a restaurant at The Music Factory, a complex outside of downtown. There was a California Bash party one night after the speeches.
State Delegation events: There was a welcome party for each delegation and a party during the convention. Each state delegation has one or more delegate hotels. The delegate hotels aren’t that close to the downtown venues, maybe a mile away. The California delegation has a breakfast every morning (you have to pay extra for that) with speakers of all sorts.
Highlights of my Convention (with Quotes!)
This convention was partly a “war for women,” so I kept pretty busy. One of my favorite quotes was from Orlando Police Chief and Congressional candidate Val Demings: “Women care about the same issues as men. We care about small business owners, quality education for our children and grandchildren, that our seniors retire with dignity, and about our national security and military. But if we have to keep talking about Women’s health issues, we will.”
California Delegation Breakfast Series Speakers: Georgia Congressman John Lewis (“we know the history of voter suppression – we fought it before, we’ll have to fight it again”), Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards (sits on the Congressional Science and Technology subcommittee with notorious MO Congressman Todd Akin: “Republicans clearly don’t believe in science or understand female biology”) , DNC Women’s Caucus Chair Christine Pelosi (“to have more women run, even for delegate, we need to change the way we’re looking at politics”), and Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi:
- “this administration has created more private sector jobs in one year than in the 8 years of the Bush administration”
- “Republicans don’t believe in a public sector role. Doing nothing is their philosophy. Medicare, Social Security, immigration reform, women’s rights, LGBT rights, access to college for everyone, not just the few are all on the ballot with the President”
- “Republicans’ strategy for the election is to suppress the vote, poison the debate with such misrepresentation as to confuse the voter, overwhelm the airways and obstruct constructive legislation”
- “If we want better policies, we have to change the politics”
CA Assembly Speaker John Perez, CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, CA Attorney General Kamala Harris, CA Board of Equalization member Betty Yee (“Democrats are the party of the 40 hour work week, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance and child labor laws”), CA Senator Barbara Boxer (“are you better off? In 2008 we were bleeding 750,00 jobs/month, now we’re adding 100s of thousands of jobs/month; Osama bin Laden is dead, the Medicare drug benefit hole is filled, we have a Consumer Protection Agency, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, millions of women have access to free birth control, and we have 2 new women on the Supreme Court”), women’s health care advocate Sandra Fluke (“others want to define my generation as the ‘entitlement generation,’ but we only want to be entitled to equality of opportunity and the right to determine when to start a family”), Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett. LA Mayor Antonio Villaregosa, CA Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richardson, CA Senator Dianne Feinstein, Hilda Solis, Ed Lee, CA State Controller John Chiang, CA State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Women’s Caucus: Donna Brazile, actress/activist Ashley Judd (“family planning should be free and freely accessible; abortion should be legal, safe and rare”), Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards (“Republicans want to end access to birth control and abortion, overturn Roe vs. Wade, and defund Planned Parenthood. They think the answer to unemployment is through our uterus! … If there ever was a mandate for mandatory sex education, its name is Todd Akin”), DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“President Obama understands that women are the backbone of the American family and economy”), Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett (“We believe in an equal chance no matter where you come from, what your last name is or who you love”), Secretary of HHS and former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius (“President Obama led the charge on improving health care quality and access for all Americans, young and old”), women’s health care advocate Sandra Fluke (“I come bearing a message from the millennial generation: we’re here to stand with you”)
Planned Parenthood Rally: MC’d by actress/activist Aisha Tyler, picketed by violent anti-choice protestors.
Planned Parenthood Celebrity Panel: with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, actresses/activists Aisha Tyler, Lisa Edelstein (The fear and ignorance surrounding abortion reminds her of the fear and ignorance about AIDS. She believes in the need to educate people and share information) and Keisha Knight Pulliam (“I believe that young people take the freedoms they have for granted and don’t realize they also have to fight to keep them”).
Emilys List Panel: Introduced by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“I am one of 277 women who have ever served in the US Congress, while in history there have been over 12,000 men … the only way to move forward is to elect more women to Congress and other leadership positions – when you add women you change the world. If Congress were 50% women, do you imagine we would have the same degree of gridlock?”), moderated by Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles (whom it had just been announced is the new editor of Cosmopoitan magazine), Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (“When Nancy Pelosi was Majority leader and appointed 5 women to the Armed Services committee, in military readiness hearings the men’s questions focused on ships, guns and equipment, while the women added to the dialogue asking about the higher rates of divorce, suicide and violence among the troops. If we had 51% women in Congress, do you think we’d still be talking about birth control instead of the critical issues facing our country?”), actress Ashley Judd, and Orlando Police Chief and Congressional candidate Val Demings (“Women care about the same issues as men. We care about small business owners, quality education for our children and grandchildren, that our seniors retire with dignity, and about our national security and military. But if we have to keep talking about Women’s health issues, we will”).
Evening Convention (a few quotes and links): One of the wildest (and arguably best) speeches many people didn’t see was former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s electrifying speech (“(Mitt Romney) loves (Michigan’s) cars so much, they even have their own elevator. In Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator, and the workers get the shaft!“): http://tinyurl.com/9rxfzlb. Other speeches and quotes of interest (NOT comprehensive!) Republican and former Marine Ned Davis (“it’s important that we do the same thing for our fellow citizens as Tammy Duckworth’s fellow soldiers did for her – not leave our suffering fallen behind, but make sure we bring them all along with us”), former Republican Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee (“I’m an example of Republicans being driven out of the party by extremist, non-mainstream views – Republicans traditionally believe in personal freedom, they don’t believe in government dictating control of our bodies or the relationship between two adults”), former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (a great speech, worth watching http://tinyurl.com/9hcra3n, “If Mitt were Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves!”), Secretary of HHS and former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius (“President Obama was raised by good Kansas women and believes in hard work and fair chances”), Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (“we faced a once in a lifetime set of crises, any one of which alone would define a presidency. Fortunately we have a once in a lifetime President”), actor Kal Penn, President Obama’s sister Maya Saetoro-Ng and Michelle Obama’s brother Craig Robinson, Lily Ledbetter, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (“Mitt Romney talks about all the things he’s fixed – I can tell you Massachusetts is not one of them. He’s a fine fellow and a great salesman. As Governor, he was more interested in having the job than doing the job”), San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (“The American dream isn’t a sprint or even a marathon – it’s a relay”), First Lady Michelle Obama (“We learned about honesty and integrity. That the truth matters. That you don't take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules.”). And of course, we should all just study the content of Bill Clinton’s speech – if you can paraphrase his points, you can convince anyone! Transcript is here: http://tinyurl.com/8lrmg7k.