by Maayan Schechter – Asst. Campus Voice Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte last week looked more like actual America than the Republican National Convention held a week earlier in Tampa, Fla.
While the RNC lacked diversity, the DNC was a mesh of a real America; an America home to many different nationalities, religions, races and sexual identities. But like the RNC, the DNC had good and bad moments.
Kicking off the convention, Charlotte hosted Carolina Fest; a festival designed for those living in the Charlotte area and those who had traveled from far away to basically party prior to the convention. James Taylor and Jeff Bridges took the stage in front of fans, while others sampled food vendors and collected DNC 2012 pins. Unfortunately for so many, Charlotte brought what it could only bring on a hot, humid summer afternoon: rain.
Democrats may have joked about the Republicans cancelling the first day of the RNC due to Hurricane Isaac, but it was Republicans who had the last laugh as rain poured everyday except Wednesday. The Democrats moved Thursday’s closing speeches – including the acceptance speech by President Obama – from the Bank of American Stadium back to the Time Warner Cable Arena, an arena that holds around 20,000 compared with a stadium that can hold close to 65,000. Thousands of Obama supporters were disappointed as holders of the public ticket were told their tickets were officially void.
The best of the DNC came in the firepower and stamina of speakers such as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke, first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and the real, not empty chair form, Barack Obama.
Mayor Castro, who predicts Obama will win close to 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, delivered one of the best speeches of the first night. He pointed at the crowd in assertion, “Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation. No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.” Following Castro’s speech, Michelle Obama stepped out looking gorgeous as always, as she humanized her husband, but made clear love like her’s and her husband’s can be found in same sex couples as well.
The convention did not always go smoothly. In complete and total ignorant taste, the Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party compared his state’s Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to Hitler’s mistress Eva Braun.
After Missouri Rep. Todd Akin made his legitimate rape comments a week before, Democrats should have learned statements lacking good taste have no place within political parties. Nazi analogies should never be used in any circumstance.
On the second day of the Democratic convention, chaos ensued when Jewish donors and pro-Israel groups objected to the removal of a line from the party’s platform identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as well as the absence of a reference of God in the document. The issue on the convention floor was clumsy and badly handled. But it could not overshadow Clinton’s sermon. In typical Clinton style, his speech lasted longer than the alloted time, yet few on the convention floor seemed to care as he spoke with a style and candor unlike any other former president. He used humor, waved his finger and spoke to a response from the party faithful that might make the GOP nervous, telling the crowd that they were here to nominate a “cool on the outside” president, of course he had one in mind. Clinton was the speaker of the night, and most likely the speaker of the entire DNC.
Biden spoke, letting the crowd know he and the President have sat together on many occasions, that they have and will continue to have a strong partnership. Obama said what he had to do, laid out his outline on how to help the economy, fix the national debt, create jobs and provide a better life for future generations.
Aside from the big speeches, there were also touching moments that will be continually remembered. Former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January 2011, spoke the words of the Pledge of Allegiance beautifully.
A rare moment of genuine emotion, attendants shared a brief moment of tears. Then there was Marc Anthony who sang the national anthem, James Taylor and The Foo Fighters belting out songs and Mary J. Blige bringing the crowd together with her song, “One.”
Television audiences and attendants were left with one-liners like Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and his “that dog hunt” line, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland joking, “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d have fired the reindeer and outsourced the elves.” But the most animated speech was former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s loud, theatrical performance Thursday night. Looking similar to an Evangelical church saving, Granholm flew her arms in the air and screamed at the crowd, revving up their excitement.
The National Convention should have left Republicans worried. The speakers were better and crowd represented the true melting pot that the United States is and will continue to be.
Now, for both parties, on to the Presidential debates beginning Oct. 3rd, when the real fun begins.