Tuesday, August 26, 2008
It was the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and I was still getting used to having a press pass and being part of "the new media", instead of being "just a blogger". In fact, I was getting used to everything. It was the first time I had ever attended a large political convention, much less the most important meeting for our party.
|Unity: watching Hillary Clinton's speech at the 2008 DNC. (Click to enlarge.)|
I had supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries, so I wanted to be on the convention floor for her speech on August 26. I had one of the coveted floor
passes... but the convention was so packed that the fire department was turning people away. The floor had reached maximum capacity, so we had to stand in the convention center hallway and watch Senator Clinton's speech on television monitors.
"This isn't like 2004. This isn't like anything I've seen before." I heard that over and over again, whispered in the hallway, from people gesturing toward the convention floor, at the crowds in the hallway, at "the whole thing". One woman told me "I've been to many of these conventions, and this one is... I can't compare it. It's amazing."
So we listened to Sen. Clinton's speech. Her message was urgent.
Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.
This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win.
And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.
No way. No how. No McCain.
Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our President.
It was just one of the many speeches that gave me chills, that got me revved up for our party, for our candidate, and for the future. The convention was complete sensory overload; it was utterly exhausting. Interview after interview, speech after speech, talk after talk, literally flying high over Colorado, even speaking Dutch off and on for most of an afternoon - it was almost too much to process, and I'm still sifting through my notes and my memories for use in future posts.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
|"The choice is clear": Bill Clinton's speech at the 2008 DNC. (Click here to enlarge.)|
Bill Clinton told us why
we must work as hard as we can to elect Barack Obama. Clinton's speech was riveting. He made a point that should be obvious, but is starting to get lost in the noise:
Look at the example the Republicans have set: American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They’ve worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than ¼ as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn’t afford health care and couldn’t qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?
America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will..
|This election "is about you": Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the 2008 DNC. (Click here to enlarge.)|
His speech was nothing compared to the grand finale of the convention: Barack Obama's acceptance speech. Several of the Daily Kos contributing editors were at Invesco Field for the speech; the rest of us watched it on TVs in The Big Tent. I have to say, the speech left me... speechless. It gave me chills. Since I still don't have words for it, I'll let Senator Obama speak
But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
If you haven't watched the speech yet, please do so. Get ready to hear not just a history-making speech, but one that uses political rhetoric as a vehicle to give specific examples of what we can expect from President Barack Obama, and exactly what John McCain cannot deliver.
The DNC left so many people excited, focused, and motivated. Even the Denver airport felt festive, with convention-goers tired but talking about Obama's speech and what they were going to do when they got home.
But, that very same day that we were all buzzing from Obama's speech, the inevitable happened: the Republicans stole the show. Their choice of a running mate for John McCain triggered a seemingly endless media frenzy of shallow speculation, which took the focus away from Obama's positive - and realistic - message. Nobody was talking anymore how Democrats offer a vast improvement over the last 8 years. The Republicans, as expected, went into the typical culture-war style attacks because they have no record to stand on.
The contrast between the DNC and the RNC was astonishing: the rhetoric at the RNC was empty sloganeering, and the mood was cynical. The Republicans presented a flag-wrapped presidential ticket, who tried to cast themselves as "mavericks"and "reformers", but who are simply a Bush clone paired with a running mate who offered pure venom, sugar-coated with a smile. The strategy seemed - and seems - to be that one is the attacker, while the other is the "maverick": "no, really, all that voting that I did to back up Bush didn't mean anything. I really mean it when I say that the Republicans have lost their way. Really! Trust me."
The Democrats have the real ideas, the real plans that can make a difference in people's lives. Every time Barack Obama and Joe Biden speak at a rally, they make that abundantly clear.
The conversation must be turned back to the disaster that has been 8 years of a Republican president, and how McCain is offering the same. We need to take back the narrative. The message should be: "We had 8 years of a Republican president. Look around you. Are you happy with the state of the country, your town, your family? If you aren't, don't you think it's time for a change?"
That's what I took home from my first Democratic National Convention. And that's what I'm saying to every fence-sitter that I meet. I went to the DNC as a solid, enthusiastic Obama supporter, and I came home determined to volunteer for the campaign.
Obama ended his speech with:
America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future.
We have a hell of a lot of work to do. So let's get back on track, and work hard to win this election.
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