If Texas were a Red State you wouldn't have known by the way we dominated the spotlight at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It could be that Texas' soil is somehow richer for growing talent or that our pride is so strong we must represent loud and proud, “We're from Texas”. But, whichever the case from Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio to America's most desperate, er, favorite Desperate Housewife, Eva Longoria of Corpus Christi to University of Texas graduate and President of College Democrats of America Alejandra Salinas, Texans made the case for President Obama. The most precious and unexpected to reach Lone Stardom during Prime Time was Mayor Castro's daughter Carina, who stole the show after seeing herself on the jumbotron.
The spirit was high and the arena standing room only. We could have used our own cell tower, believe me there would have been a lot more tweets and Facebook status updates. There were a couple of charging stations but no one's devices seemed to be able to keep up with the excitement. My non-speech lights had to include walking into the arena to James Taylor sound checking “Carolina in my Mind”, the Foo Fighters performing an acoustic version of “My Hero”, and video bombing The Daily Show and MTV News.
I don't know if the stadium would have been full for the main event but I suspect so by the number of disappointed travelers and a supposed 19,000 name waiting list. It was no doubt the right decision as it poured down during the entire time crowds would have been entering the stadium. One could also assume that if they'd really planned to have it inside they would've at least had balloons prepared. Most importantly though you don't want to upset the tens of thousands of party activists who were already in town spending money who feel slighted in some way. Keeping your base happy is more important than saving a little face over a sparse section or two of a 70k capacity stadium.
The speakers were amazing and on message, and you can find some of the best at demconvention.com. By cheers the undisputed winner was Jennifer Granholm former Governor of Michigan. Her speech will for ever more be capsulized in this gem of a gif. She focused on the auto bailout and jobs – going into a crescendo of jobs saved by state all culminating to, “The great state of Michigan – 211,000 good paying American jobs!”.
There was a theme and for the first time in a long time the Democratic Party started to seem organized, energized and possibly most important – confident. There were no apologies for stances on; marriage equality, climate change, healthcare, immigration, or voting rights. The theme was – were all in this together but education and opportunity are the keys to success and the American dream. And, the DNC version of the American Dream was not limited to those who could, “borrow money from their parents”. The convention was diverse, and inclusive but still managed set a clear tone about what it mean to move “Forward”. The DNC came out in complete support of marriage equality. It wasn't one canned speech by a gay or lesbian supporter but several speakers who gave personal accounts and nearly half of all speeches acknowledged the issue. There was a “Dreamer”, cancer survivor, firemen, military men and women, former Republicans all speaking with the same goal but from their own perspective.
The President continued down the path laid by prior speakers that education and opportunity will lead to job growth and a better economy. He used his own life experience as proof that with hard work and a fair chance we can accomplish anything. The most powerful part of his speech was when he said, “You're the reason” , which for all purposes could have been replaced with “you built this”.
You're the reason there's a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage. You did that.
You're the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he'd be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible.
You're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home; why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.”
If you turn away now – if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible…well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void: lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should make for themselves.
Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
Perhaps it hit home so hard because it reminds me of what I said in 2008 when I introduced the then Senator Obama as “The next President of the United States.” I said then as is true now, “Its just the beginning, we have a lot of work to do…We can't expect some one to take our dreams and our hopes to Washington unless we stay right here at home and fight for those very same things.”
Then there is Vice President Joe Biden. If there is ever a politician you look at and get the urge to want to share a beer with, its “Uncle Joe”. That's what the Obama campaign is banking blue collar working types and Catholic men will be thinking and also why the RNC has recently gone on the attack trying to portray him as a liability. The President called his attack dog in chief, “the best Vice President I could ever hope for.”
Democrats are confident, not so confident that they are taking November for granted but confident enough to start speculating about 2016. The talk of whether Joe Biden, a former candidate for President, would try again or if Hillary would give it another shot. Hillary is in a great position. No one would ever question if she was ready for the 3am phone call and her approval rating is at an incredible 66%. For Joe's case there seemed to be some consensus that a then 73 year old President Biden would only be running for 1term but that it could open the door to someone else on the ticket. That brings us to Julian Castro – the young mayor of San Antonio. Practically speaking no Mayor in recent memory other than Giuliani was even considered a serious contender. But, there is one office that American's do like to elevate to President and that's Governor. If Texan's are able to harness and build on the enthusiasm, optimism and unity from the DNC in 2014, electing an other Texas Governor as President may not seem like such a crazy idea after all.