Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reflections on Denver

Doings in Denver, Part 4

Photo: Listening to Bill Clinton at the Pepsi Center

Back in 1988, when I was 22 years old, I went to the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, GA. For those who were in Middletown at the time, you might remember the 39% of the local vote that went to Jesse Jackson -- which led to Mark (my spouse) being a delegate for Jackson from our region.

Here's what I remember from the 1988 DNC -- it was a circus of special interest groups, with everyone wearing their labor union or political cause on their sleeve -- literally -- and the sense that the real business of the event was the trading of turf and chits between these groups. It felt like state politics and local issues -- potholes if you will -- were the main issue at hand.

Things couldn't be more different in Denver in 2008. Instead I feel a sense of hopefulness and energy from the crowd -- there is a feeling that we are here to exercise our creativity and intelligence, and that the stakes are very high for the future of our country. I'm sure it must look a little trivial from a distance, but the focus on transit, recycling, and alternative energy have awakened a conscience that is anything but cynical among the participants in Denver. It feels like we are proving to ourselves that we are not the hapless victims of a declining America. It feels like things could actually change, idea by idea.

I should say that in reality, I'm very much on the edges of things here, since I've been spending more time with our family friends than in the politial scene. But anytime you set foot in the downtown, the sense of purpose and debate is tangible and very interesting.

One of the things that makes this convention so substantial is the series of roundtables that have brought together innovators from various fields -- Mark got to help with a few of these, on the topics of energy, international relations and philanthropy. So it's more than just funny hats and rah-rah slogans. There is real connection happening here.

And there are plenty of opportunities to appreciate the creativity of Denver -- like the parking meters that encourage people to give their spare change not to the panhandlers (there are some) but to social service programs.

I have a whole slew of photos and ideas to bring home -- maybe I'll get them up on flickr so that I don't overly tax the Middletown Eye!


Anonymous said...

Back in 1968 I attended the convention in Chicago.Lucky me, maced and pursued by rampaging policemen. What an unforgettable experience! Are things much different today, or what? I much perfer this armchair trip to the shindig in Denver. Thanks,Jen!

Eye M said...

We are missing you at home but do much appreciate the first hand reporting from the DNC. Sounds like everyone in your family is getting an education and we can't wait for you all to share your new ideas upon your return.
Give our Middletown best to that fabulous mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper (a former Middletown resident). It was all the buzz around town that he got to speak at the convention.