Vote Hope conference
8/27/08 - DAY THREE
It's around noon, and I'm sitting in one of the larger conference rooms at the Ritz Carlton, tucking into a fairly impressive box lunch with fellow California travelers Mary Jack and Dave Dayden. We're at a conference sponsored by "Vote Hope", a political action committee that hopes to do for candidates of color what Emily's List has done for women.
They have an exciting line-up of speakers, including Congresswoman Hilda Solis, New York Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffrie, and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who has one of the better lines that afternoon. Referring a recent study that puts American Caucasians in the minority by 2042, she's says the movement to empower people of color isn't as much "We shall overcome" as it is "We shall overwhelm."
But the star of the show has to be Newark's African-American Mayor Cory Booker, a 39-year old Rhodes Scholar, Yale Law School Graduate, and admitted Trekkie who gained national attention in 1999 when he went on a 10-day hunger strike, living in a tent in front of one of Newark's worst housing projects to protest open-air drug dealing.
Speaking without any notes, he talks about his darkest days as a neophyte councilman and his philosophy of "bold optimism". It's an electrifying performance capped by a prescient quote from Martin Luther King,
"Change will not roll in on the wheels of inevitability."
Afterwards, armed with a credential gifted to me by Dave, I'm off to the Big Tent. an 8,000 square foot, two-story blogger's paradise with access to free WiFi, extensive work spaces, television-coverage, as well as free food and drinks. It's here I watch live coverage of Hillary Clinton as she stops the roll call vote and calls for Barack Obama to be nominated by unanimous acclimation. The tension in the Big Tent is palpable until that moment, despite (or maybe because of) it's inevitability. A voice in one corner - from a blogger I can't identify - declares,
"Ladies and Gentlemen, our long national nightmare is over.......until Friday"
After an evening of rousing speeches by Bill Richardson, John Kerry (where the hell was this guy in 2004?), Bill Clinton and Joe Biden, I pack it up for the evening to meet up with Dave and Mary again, who were fortunate enough to watch all the festivities in the convention hall.
As I wait, the bomb squad rolls in and shuts down the 16th Street Mall. Within 15 minutes they have the entire area blocked off. I hear the tell-tale sound of a "suspicious unattended package" being blown up (Hint: it doesn't sound like fireworks), then the streets are opened just as quickly as they'd been closed.
I end the evening at the Denver chapter of "Drinking Liberally" third-year anniversary bash at the Skylark Lounge. We're entertained by Laughing Liberally comedians, a chocolate fountain with a history, and the "Max and the Marginalized" band.
It would have been a fantastic end to the day if it weren't for a small, but merry, band of locals who were drinking, but definitely not liberal. Already in sensory overload, the cross-noise of political rock 'n roll and cackling laughter that could cut glass gets to be a bit much for me.
I pack it in around midnight. Tomorrow is going to a big day.
To see photos from the day, go to my online gallery