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I have returned home from the Democratic National Convention both excited and heartened about our prospects for the future. Being at Invesco Field for Senator Obama’s acceptance speech was a historical moment that I will be recounting to my children and grandchildren and likely anyone else who is willing to listen in the years to come. Friends and acquaintances reached to me offering free places to stay, credentials for entry into the convention proceedings, VIP passes into the most exclusive parties each night, free meals and the works. I felt so blessed to be spending my final week of the summer immersed in progressive politics alongside this landmark campaign. I have had a wild and adventurous summer, and this convention has served as the cherry on top of it all for me.
That said, I have returned home from the Democratic National Convention both disquieted and disappointed at some of the moments I experienced there. I do not think of myself as a particularly well-connected individual but the reality is that I am and I reaped the benefits of said connections during my week at the convention. I was left wondering about how an average, non-delegate citizen would gain access to the movers and shakers of our “big tent” party without having any friends who works as lobbyists, executives and/or party leaders of some sort in Washington or elsewhere. The simple answer is that they likely would not have access. We are supposed to be the party of access. I witnessed degrees of sycophancy that alarmed me. We are not the party of the glitterati, we are the party of the general public. Sure, Invesco opened up the big speech to over 75,000 people and there are certain security constraints to be considered, but I am still left wondering about how progressive those leading our party truly are given what I saw.
Maybe I am just protesting some fundamental human traits: the desire for group identification (at the expense of excluding some), overzealous interest in celebrities and their unique lives and cronyism in all its forms. Nevertheless, what I experienced begs the question about how progressive we Democrats truly are at the end of the day. The corporate sponsorships, expensive parties held in the name of eliminating poverty and the exclusivity in both body and mind surrounding the convention all speak to a dissonance that many of us feel in the party.
In this election year, with the nominee that we have and the history that we are on the verge of making, I am searching for the best of us. We have such an incredible opportunity to not just push forward our progressive policy prescriptions but also to fundamentally challenge the way business is done in politics across this nation. The convention, in many ways, was a large step forward in that effort. This entire campaign season has been a giant leap in that department. Let the progress run deeper and thrive more vigorously as we move forward.