Day 1 started with the news that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was booed by her own delegation at the Florida breakfast. Not dissuaded, I tried to take SEPTA into Philadelphia, but because of the heat, there were long delays (beyond the already abbreviated schedule), and so I took my very first Uber ride. It was delightful.
The logistics of the Philly convention are somewhat challenging. The morning starts for all of the delegates at 7 a.m. when they need to pick up their credentials for the day at their hotels, some of which are 30 miles from the city. For the rest of us needing daily credentials, the day starts at the Philadelphia Convention Center (PCC), where people are milling about and attending meetings, caucuses and training sessions.
The first person I met today was a Hillary delegate from North Carolina, Ralph Rodland. We had a fantastic chat about House Bill 2, North Carolina’s infamous “bathroom bill,” requiring individuals to use public restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificates. Rodland believes that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s days are numbered. Although he is thrilled to be here as a Hillary delegate, Rodland did ask whether it was always this hot in Philly, since it’s actually cooler and less humid back home in North Carolina right now.
Then it was time to get on the media bus and go down to scope out the arena. Although the city is much less closed off than it was when the pope visited last year, it was still a long walk from the drop-off point to the arena. For those not familiar with Philly, it’s less of an arena and more of a conglomeration of multiple sports facilities. If you know my knowledge of sports, you know I don’t know who plays what where, but I’m sure someone will tell me. Again.
One of the first things I scoped out was the part of the convention no one really shows you. Below are some pictures of where the work actually gets accomplished.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s go upstairs. Facebook has a nice lounge where it is possible to sit, tweet, and hey, post to Facebook. One of the nicest things is that the lounge is filled with charging stations, all of which have multiple options for various electronics. A few charging areas are also stationed around the arena, and all are brought to you courtesy of AT&T. Twitter has a table too. Both places have tons of swag.
I tweeted out pictures of the arena all decked out, and posted some to Facebook. The real excitement happened when the gavel came down. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake replaced Rep. Wasserman Schultz in presiding over the opening ceremonies, and was cheered when she came out — possibly because some people were surprised. She was poised and did a good job speaking, and then realized, she didn’t have the gavel. She got it, banged it, and the place went wild. Then, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale gave the invocation, and the train came off the rails. Everything was okay until she said “…and we are here to select Hillary Clinton as our nominee for president of the United States.” The booing was louder than the yays. That was a theme for a while. Everything was fine until Clinton, or Clinton and Kaine, were cited as the nominees prior to names being entered into nomination or the vote being taken.
When Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) took over as head of the convention, she tolerated the booing for a while. And then, she let loose, chastising the audience. It was not our finest hour.
I decided to take a walk, and ran into my state senator, Andy Dinniman. There’s something really heartwarming about talking to your elected official who knows you — where you live, what you do — no need for an aide to hand him a file card. Andy is a great guy who fights tirelessly for “the right thing” for our community, and amongst the noise and the politics, it was fantastic to talk to someone who, day after day, does the work of government in a way that is decent and worthwhile.
Finally it was time to call it a day. The arena was getting overcrowded, on a day when the heat index hit 108. Walking across the security zone, I ran into John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, and former candidate for U.S. Senate. We talked about meeting at Netroots Nation back in 2009, his campaign this year, his former opponent Katie McGinty, and the work he is still doing every day in Braddock. Again, a public servant who, day in and day out, works tirelessly for his people.
There’s a lot of fun in politics, a lot of intrigue, a lot that’s sexy. But people like John and Andy understand that politics is poetry and governance is prose. It’s not just getting elected; it’s working for the good of one’s constituency.
Tomorrow, I’ll be downtown all day attending various seminars, lectures and meet-and-greets. I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking all day, and will have a wrap-up in the evening.