Columnist goes to party of a lifetime at DNC

Naomi Green

Tuesday, August 26, 2008Tuesday was a little more low-key than Monday. I attended breakfast, handed out credentials and worked the office hours. I was assigned to look at the schedule of parties and events for the day, decide which events our delegates would be most interested in attending, and tell the KDP’s Executive Director, Mike Gaughan, so he could procure the extra tickets when he took his daily trip downtown. I ended up with special guest credentials to the convention, so I got to see Gov. Brian Schweitzer speak again. Which, if not viewed on TV, is a Google-worthy speech; this man is a stand-up comedian. I also got to watch Hillary Clinton’s speech, which was simply amazing. I had always respected Hillary, but as a staunch Obama supporter, I was still programmed to listen to her speak with a defensive ear. But this woman blew me away; she is incredible and will be the first woman president of the United States someday. After the convention, a friend and I went to a hip hop show of the old-school, beat-box, Adidas-shell top variety. Slick Rick and Biz Markie (“Obama, you! You got what we neee-eed!”) were among the performers, and it was easily one of the best nights of the convention.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008I didn’t do much on Wednesday. I worked in the office as usual, and I was successful in scoring impossible tickets to the Kanye West show for a delegate. I went shopping downtown and watched most of Bill Clinton’s speech at the MSNBC pavilion. I was thankful for the slow-paced, restful day. That evening, my friend and I went to a party sponsored by Voto Latino. We sat at a table next to actress Rosario Dawson. I asked her if I could take her picture and she refused, saying she was in the middle of a conversation. She immediately lost any appeal. Raise your hand if you saw “Rent.” Now raise your hand if you liked it. Exactly what I thought. Whatever, Ms. Dawson. After that we went to a party sponsored by the African-American Caucus. There were five different rooms representing the places where the AAC was most active: Los Angeles, New York, South Carolina, Detroit and Miami. Each room featured its own type of food and style of music. For the record, none of the rooms could compete with Miami. Thursday, August 28, 2008Today was the greatest day of the convention, not to mention the most stressful. Everybody wanted a credential to get into Invesco Stadium for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. After breakfast, I spent a lot of extra time in the KDP office waiting around for phone calls. Apparently, there were extra credentials to be picked up, but they were in several different locations. Once the tickets were physically inside the KDP office, calls would be made to the lucky individual who would receive them. I hung around until almost 1:00 p.m. until the kind staffers thanked me for a job well done and told me (and I’m paraphrasing) that I had better get my rear to Invesco, because seating within the sections was first-come, first-serve. Had I known the pandemonium that would follow, I would have left right after breakfast. Lines. Lines twisting and turning for blocks and blocks. Actually, line is not an accurate description. Crowds of people huddled together, some not even knowing which line they were in. The aerial view must have been a sight. Media bigwigs tried flashing press credentials before realizing that we were created equal – we all had to wait in one line or another. I spent a good 45 minutes walking toward the end of a line and never even saw a hint of one. To be completely honest, I cut in line. Yes, I line-jumped; I cheated. I wish I could say I was ashamed to do it, but that would be a lie. After that, it took maybe an hour to get into Invesco. I watched Sheryl Crow,, John Legend and Stevie Wonder perform. Among the speakers I saw were Senator Dick Durbin D-Ill., Governor Bill Richardson, former Vice President Al Gore, and Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden. I also participated in what I’ll bet was the biggest, most successful version of the wave in history. Being a part of all this was amazing in and of itself, but I was there to see Barack Obama speak. By the time he took the podium, I was so charged with positive, Democratic energy that tears just streamed down my cheeks. I can hardly put into words how it felt to watch Barack’s historic acceptance speech, because it still has yet to sink in. Periodically, I would just look around at the packed stadium and marvel at all the people who, just like me, tearfully watched this man become the first African-American to accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. I managed to keep my composure during the speech, but by the time he was finished and brought his wife and daughters out to join him on the podium, I could no longer contain my emotions. Part of it had to do with realizing this beautiful African-American family, smiling and waving to the crowd, could become the First Family of the United States. The other part came from finally seeing Barack Obama in the flesh. I’ve seen him on TV, read the policies on his website, and downloaded his speeches to my iPod, but I’ve waited so long to hear him speak in person. And to get my chance with this particular venue was tremendous. This is a man who inspired me to get involved in politics beyond reading the newspaper and voting in elections. And I am just one of many. To those of you who scoff and sneer at Obama supporters, dismiss Obama as a “celebrity” candidate, and mock his feat of addressing 84,000 people, I would like to remind you of one thing: The President of the United States is supposed to be popular with the American people. To summarize, this was the greatest week of my life. It was basically a party magnified to the size akin to that of a wholly mammoth lasting over four days. And the only way to get an invite is to be active in the Democratic Party. The more you participate, the more likely you are to receive tickets to these incredibly exclusive events. The Democratic National Convention is a week-long reward for all the hard work Democrats across the country put in all year, every year. It is too easy to say that one can put in all that work merely for the revelry, and honestly, it would be an accurate statement. But the most vital lesson to be learned here is that participation in politics is a precious human right. It is the most patriotic duty a citizen can perform, even more so than joining the military. The simplest way to partake in the political process is to vote. Too many college students and young adults brush off this essential responsibility, concluding that their vote won’t count so they won’t waste the time. One of the biggest reasons why I support Barack Obama is because he pays attention to my demographic in a way not seen in this country for a generation. In 2004, 1,300 people turned out to vote in the Kansas Democratic Caucus; in 2008, that number blew up to 37,000 Barack Obama won nearly 75 percent of that vote. There is a reason why this man runs on the platform of “change.” But those numbers will not mean a thing if people do not turn up at the voting polls Tuesday, Nov. 4. And that doesn’t apply just to those who will vote for Obama. Everyone aged 18 and older needs to get out there and cast their ballot. Who knows? It may take you down a road that ends with the greatest party you will ever experience in your entire life.