News, notes, and gossip surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte
Sep 7, 2012
06:44 PMThe DNC In The CLT
The (Non)Experience of 65,000
My firsthand account of what it felt like to expect to attend the closing night of the Democratic National Convention, only to not have
(page 2 of 2)
As I was saying, if the Democrats hadn’t tried to hold a major outdoor event to open the doors to more Americans, to prove to the world (and Republicans) that so many people are enthusiastic for reelecting President Obama, they wouldn’t have ended up disappointing 65,000 members of the general public. It's the tens of thousands who signed up to be volunteers, and were rewarded with community credentials they eventually couldn’t use. The tens of thousands who raced to go online to register for community credentials simply because the DNC had made them available to the public with no strings attached, who then waited in line for several hours a couple of weeks ago to pick them up, only not to be able to use them.
My friend who told me on a Friday a couple weeks ago that her grandmother had threatened her had she not gotten in that line to pick up the community credentials for the elderly woman. Another friend who said he waited in lines for hours to pick up the ones for his family so his kids could experience it. The many friends I saw over the last couple of weeks proudly sharing photos on Facebook of them holding these passes like they were The Golden Tickets. The countless others I don’t know personally, but saw tweeting similar photos publicly on Twitter.
My high school teacher, whom I haven’t seen in about 15 years, who emailed me Tuesday afternoon with excitement, saying she was driving up from South Carolina and “My husband and 16 year-old twins are coming Thursday to Bank of America Stadium. Are there any before or after activities? I want the twins to have a great time.” Only to have her on Wednesday email me asking: “Jarvis, do you know anyone who could get us passes to hear the president at the new venue? It would mean so much to [us]. The twins have been long-time Democratic supporters and volunteers since they were young?” It broke my heart to tell her I didn’t know any way to help them.
And then there were dozens of people in that overwhelming line at Fifth and College streets last evening, who had no special credentials, but had the original community credentials, knowing they were no longer valid, but hoping there would be some how, some way they could get in. One lady turned around, looked at me, saw my press credential, and jokingly said, “I’ll carry your bag” (referring to the bag I had on my shoulder with my journo stuff). Then her face turned solemn when she said, “I drove here from Louisiana.”
That’s why I didn’t try very hard last evening to maneuver my way past the restricted access once the arena had neared capacity. I’d certainly had my share of special access to events taking place this week during the DNC (and had a lot of fun, too). But more importantly, there were already thousands of journalists inside the arena who are telling great stories about what it was like in there last night. I figured I’d try to tell a story about what it was like to not be in there—even though you had expected to be, because you had been invited.
The Democratic National Convention has done a lot of great things for Charlotte, since it was announced February 1, 2011 that the city had won the bid to host it. I’ve seen the impact already, even before any final assessments are made (the plethora of national news stories, alone, over the past year that have, essentially, told the rest of the country how great this city is, in telling the story of the DNC). The DNC staffs and committees, many of whom have lived in Charlotte for the past year to plan the convention, making this their temporary home and who’ll be moving away in coming weeks, have contributed a lot. The DNCC, for example, announced this week that its staff had completed 4,034 hours of community service locally, more than doubling their goal of completing 2,012 service hours prior to the start of the 2012 convention.
But there was certainly a black eye on last night’s DNC grand finale.
It’s like, if there’s someone who has a huge crush on you, who you ask out on a date, then you call it off. And there’s someone else who has a huge crush on you, but you never ask out on a date. Which one do you think would be most disappointed?
Hopefully whichever city hosts the DNC in 2016 will receive plans to hold all days of the convention proceedings indoors, even if that means much fewer people will be able to see the presidential nominee speak on the final night. At least they won’t have gotten their hopes up, and the rest of the experience will make it all worth it.