Top Ten Things I Saw at the Democratic National Convention
I saw a lot of things as I roamed around Charlotte before and after my volunteer shift yesterday. Most notably, a remarkable level of diversity. There were white suburban teenagers, old Sikh men, LGBTQ people by the swarms, Latinos, Asian Pacific Islanders, savvy business people, congressional representatives, Arab- and Jewish-Americans, journalists, musicians, salsa dancers, improvisational theater groups, white guys of all shapes and ages and sizes, little old ladies, Occupy protesters, fierce black women, a zillion cops and secret service with their horses, dogs, and bicycles. All paper and plastic cups were compostable. As a volunteer, I was encouraged to point lost conventioneers to local restaurants rather than chains. The emphasis on positive attitudes, environmentalism, respect for LGBTQ people, and moving forward was not just a tagline – it was the permeating personality of the entire event.
I was impressed, to say the least. And, by the time I left, I found myself dreaming about a world that reflected the values and energy of what’s happening this week in Charlotte. (Yes, I’ve always been a registered Democrat, so I’m biased. But I’m also an American and a self-employed gay woman who loves free expression and clean air and water, and I’m making a family with my partner in a DOMA state that just passed a constitutional amendment that doesn’t recognize my family, so maybe all that makes me biased too. Is anyone not biased when it comes to our collective future?)
Anyway, to keep myself from using this post to preach about collective action and community empowerment, I drew up this list of the Ten Best Things I Saw at the Democratic National Convention. Enjoy.
1. Best (only) celebrity sighting: Newman from Seinfeld, with his entourage.
2. Best hat: “Listen birthers & haters – Kiss my grits!”
3. Best button: “Once you vote black, you never go back.”
4. Best SWAG: Barack-Obama-head trailer hitch ball covers. By the time I got there, they were out of them. I don’t have a trailer hitch ball to cover, but imagine I could have found a use for the President’s head. Runner up: Barack Obama ALEction Pale Ale. I scored a 40 oz bottle of it and plan to drink it at home during his speech tonight.
5. Best random Republican operative whose presence made no sense to me: Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee (during Bush years and the 2008 election – when he made it his job to skewer Barack Obama – and the first African-American to hold that office). He was posing for photos with middle-aged black women Democrat delegates who were drooling over how dreamy he is. It was a very strange thing. Sexiness knows no party lines, I suppose.
6. Best lone protester: A guy in a wife-beater which had been decorated to target the Republican National Convention in Tampa, standing next to a bicycle, with duct tape over his mouth. Scrawled in black magic marker, his shirt read: “Dissent @ Demise Tampa/RNC Police State.” Certainly he could have made a new wife-beater themed for the DNC. Those things come in two-packs anyway, right? Maybe his marker ran out of magic?
7. Best group of protesters: The trucks driving around town covered in signs and slogans, including one which read “Democracy and Corruption Cannot Coexist.” Wonder where they’ve gotten their history lessons from.
8. Best place to see a Kennedy: Onstage at the MSNBC pavilion, with his back to the audience, giving an interview to Chris Matthews. He was mic’d for the camera but not the crowd. Didn’t stop people from gathering around en masse and watching the silent back of his head for the duration.
9. Best random decoration out of the view of pretty much everyone: A red, white, and blue DNC donkey adorned with a very small American flag, sitting on a shelf of sorts, atop astroturf, high above the MSBC pavilion, next to a sign depicting Rachel Maddow’s face.
10. Best T-shirt: RUN DNC. Available online at http://pursuituniform.com/rundnccart.cfm
Best Sand Sculpture: Courtesy of Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau