The Democratic National Convention had spectacle, but substance too

Nick Bordner, left, served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Fellow Islander Laura Hicks was one of two Washington state pages. - Jim Pearson photo
Nick Bordner, left, served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Fellow Islander Laura Hicks was one of two Washington state pages.
— image credit: Jim Pearson photo

Vashon’s 18-year-old delegate reflects on his whirlwind experience with the democratic process

Two weeks ago, I attended the Democratic National Convention as the youngest delegate from Washington state and the second youngest in the country.

Having just turned 18, I had, of course, never attended one before, or even really seen anything but the highlights of the one four years ago. Simply put, I had no idea what to expect.

I was blown away. I was simply speechless for most of the time I was there. The venues in Denver (both the Pepsi Center where most of the convention was and Invesco Field where Barack Obama gave his speech) were incredible, and the atmosphere was unimaginable.

The energy was like that of a rock concert or the Superbowl, not least of all because of performers such as will.i.am, John Legend, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Wonder, or the fact that Obama’s speech was given on the 50-yard line of the Denver Broncos football stadium, which was filled to capacity: more than 80,000 people.

Having reviewed past conventions and watched the Republican National Convention last week in Minneapolis-St. Paul, I have come to realize that the Democratic National Convention this year was like nothing before it.

The Pepsi Center’s stage was more a work of art than a stage, with elaborate, arching screens and amazing lighting. And the idea of holding an acceptance speech in a packed football stadium is simply unheard of.

I see this as an immensely positive thing. The fact that Barack Obama was able to fill an entire stadium for a speech, and in fact would have probably been able to fill several more, is a huge testament to how he has energized so many people to be hopeful and excited about what he can do for this country.

There was a sea of people waiting outside, hoping to get in to see the speech. People poured in from all directions, blocking streets, filling every inch of available space around the perimeter. Lines literally stretched for miles. I am told it was somewhat reminiscent of Woodstock.

This also demonstrates that Obama is not simply talking about change: He is making it happen. Never again will the political process, from fundraising methods to conventions, be the same. He has already, without even being elected, changed more things about politics in this country than nearly anyone else in recent history.

However, many disagree. Many call the convention “a façade,” or an elaborate “spectacle” with no substance to it.

I grant them that it was quite a show, but I do not understand why it is assumed that because it is an impressive show, it therefore has nothing concrete. I suspect that said people did not listen to the speeches, but rather just watched the fireworks (yes, there were fireworks).

Michelle Obama gave an amazing speech that gave anyone listening a better idea of who the Obama family is, not politically, but as people.

Hilary Clinton gave one of the best speeches I have ever heard her give about the importance of unity in the party.

Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana, gave an insightful, yet humorous speech about energy policy, and Joe Biden talked about everything from his story to foreign policy.

And Barack Obama laid out details of the measures he would take if he were president to pull our nation out of the downward decline that we’ve been in for the past seven years. He spoke about his economic plans, his foreign policy plans and his plans for civil liberties and human rights.

Not only that, but the speeches not headlining were impressive as well.

One that sticks out in my mind was on Thursday night, before Obama spoke, when several dozen of the highest ranking men and women in our military took the stage and said that Barack Obama is ready to be commander-in-chief, and that they endorse him and would trust in and follow his leadership in Iraq, Afghanistan or another country.

This, of course, is a counter to John McCain’s allegations that Obama is not ready to lead a country in a time of war.

Yes, the convention was a show. Yes, it was like a sporting event or a concert. And yes, it had substance.

It was simply presenting substance in a new, fresh way. A way that appeals to a new generation, and way that is a testament to the inspiration of Barack Obama and what he has already done and will continue to do for the Democratic Party, and this country.

— Nick Bordner graduated from Vashon High School

in June.

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