Monday, September 17, 2012

So Close Yet So Far (from the DNC)

I spent most of the day on Wednesday September 5, 2012 daydreaming; in less than twenty-four hours I would ride to Charlotte, North Carolina to attend the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

I had found out only the week before, tipped off by a cryptic phone call from campaign staff in Atlanta asking for my mailing address. One of the perks of working for any political campaign is the opportunity to attend catered events and receptions where administration officials speak. But when the ticket arrived, a ticket that would admit me to the Bank of America Stadium to see President Obama accept the nomination of his party -- this particular opportunity was the best yet!

I chose my clothes for the next day carefully, ironing each piece and laying them out for the early morning drive. I packed my bags and charged my camera in preparation for the festivities. It wasn’t until about 9 p.m. Wednesday night that I heard plans might change. Staff from Obama for America called to say that unfortunately, due to severe weather forecasts, the convention would be moved to the indoor Time Warner Center, a venue with more limited seating. He assured me the decision was for the safety of all attendees.

Even with this disappointing news, some fellow summer staff members and I decided to wing it, making the drive to Charlotte to see what else might be in store. When we arrived early Thursday, excited and boisterous fans filled the streets—all ready to celebrate this official moment with the delegates, political leaders and community organizers. 

Once in town, we confirmed with campaign staff that our community credentials would not guarantee us entry into the Time Warner Center. Instead, we were invited to a conference call with the President at 1:20 p.m. and were promised an additional opportunity to attend a more intimate event with the President at a time closer to the November election. Once on the line, the President assured us that while a phone call couldn’t replace seeing his speech in person, this moment was what campaigns were really all about -- community, fellowship, and the undying perseverance that comes from those with a common goal.

While we couldn’t see Barack Obama in person, he reminded us of the work we had left to do in this hard fought political race. And in the end, I think he was right. It is often the little moments that make the campaign trail so special. I spent most of my day in Charlotte talking with other convention hopefuls as well as local citizens. There was the pastry shop owner who had seen her highest sales ever since the convention started. Also, there were crews of volunteers who had flown in from Tennessee, Ohio, New York and more hoping, like me, for a chance to meet the President they campaigned hard for all summer long. That night we all gathered together for a watch party and although we didn’t see the speech live, we were all inspired together and felt connected to a campaign dedicated to change.

Post by Beatrice Pollard, student worker/blogger, Russell Library

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