This past week, Democrats from all 50 states and several territories gathered in Charlotte, N.C., for the 46th Democratic National Convention (DNC). There, delegates unanimously voted to renominate Barack Obama and Joe Biden for a second term, and approved a platform outlining the party’s beliefs. I traveled to Charlotte last Saturday to represent our state as a delegate, and have greatly enjoyed being in the middle of all of the action.
Over the course of three evenings, the Democratic Party’s best known elected leaders and activists laid out a compelling case for why Obama and Biden ought to be re-elected.
On Tuesday, delegates and guests heard from First Lady Michelle Obama, who knows the president better than anyone else and has been at his side as he has grappled with the nation’s enormous challenges.
“I have seen firsthand that being President doesn’t change who you are — no, it reveals who you are,” she said. “I’ve seen how the issues that come across a president’s desk are always the hard ones — the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer; the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error. And as president, you’re going to get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values and your vision and the life experiences that make you who you are.”
On Wednesday night, in a nearly 50-minute address that was widely praised as one of the best speeches he has ever given, former President Bill Clinton explained why voters would be wise to give President Obama a second term.
“I want to nominate a man who’s cool on the outside, but who burns for America on the inside,” Clinton said. “I want a man who believes with no doubt that we can build a new American dream economy, driven by innovation and creativity, by education and yes, by cooperation.”
“In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple, pretty snappy,” Clinton added. “It went something like this: ‘We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.’”
“No president, no president — not me, not any of my predecessors — no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years,” Clinton declared.
“Look, I love our country so much. And I know we’re coming back… We’ve come through every fire a little stronger and a little better. And we do it because, in the end, we decide to champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor, the cause of forming a more perfect union. My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President Barack Obama.”
As of press time, neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden had delivered their acceptance speeches, but both were poised to discuss the many accomplishments of the administration’s term and lay out a plan to strengthen America over the next four years.
Contemporary political party conventions are sometimes described as pointless or unnecessary because each of the parties usually settles on a nominee months before the convention, during the nominating season.
But the conventions are where nominations become official, where platforms get discussed and adopted, where activists hold caucuses or organizing sessions, and where rising stars get opportunities to speak before a national audience. Conventions are a chance for parties to make an impression on the electorate.
As Democrats have just proved in Charlotte, a convention can effectively be used to reframe the debate and alter the political landscape.
Judging by news coverage and social media chatter, the conversation about the choice in 2012 is much, much different than it was a week ago — and that’s thanks to the DNC.
Election Day is now just under two months away. The conclusion of the Republican National Convention and the DNC marks the end of the summer political season and the beginning of autumn. We are now entering the home stretch. And in a few weeks, it will be time for us to vote and decide what kind of future we want for America. I’ll be voting for President Obama because I want a Commander-in-Chief who believes that we don’t inherit this great country of ours from our ancestors, but rather, borrow it from our children.
Andrew Villeneuve, a 2005 Redmond High graduate, is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a Redmond-based grassroots organization. Villeneuve can be reached at email@example.com.