This year marked my 3rd Democratic National Convention to attend and the 3rd consecutive national convention for which Burnt Orange Report has been credentialed media. That accomplishment can be matched by no other state and is a credit to the owners, editors, writers, and readers that have followed us at any point over the last 9.5 years.
In 2004 I served as a (Deaniac) John Kerry delegate and was the youngest member of the Texas delegation to Boston. I was joined by Byron LaMasters, then owner of BOR, who carried this site's first of three media credentials to a national convention. The second was carried by former BOR Editor in Chief Matt Glazer and me in Denver. We used to joke about Matt being the youngest Texas delegate in 2004 for about 20 minutes... until I got elected. To think in 2012 we would been outnumbered 3-1 by the number of University Democrats alone who earned delegate status...it is just another example that the looks of the Democratic Party have indeed changed. The convention that BOR's Editor Katherine Haenschen reported so well had a totally different tone and feel, one that is the clearest yet about what the future of our Democratic Party looks like.
I have a number of thoughts and observations but I've tried to outline them by area as follows.
The Convention Itself- Boisterous in the hall, good energy. The raw number of delegates has grown so I believe this was the largest ever. Even so, people were fired up and ready to go once they stopped worrying about the weather and were delivered fresh, prime cuts of meat for the base. It was a tightly focused, incredibly well done showcase of the core of the Democratic Party. People you never would have seen onstage in 2004 saying things that were "liberal Howard Dean" lines (which more than once was accompanied by a long list of states being shouted out to the crowd). That left is the new center of the party which of course has been where a large chunk of America has been for some time. We've certainly demanded a Party that esposes what its members believe. It also shows the power of having a strong national narrative and candidate...
Nationalism of the Party- In a saturated environment like this one, where voters are very aware of the race, the candidates, and already have hard opinions, there is little point to try to shy away or follow a strategy that denies the simple fact that the Presidential nominees in environments like this become the Party. Personally, I believe this trend is going to strengthen, not weaken in future elections. In the advertising world, brand identities have taken a turn towards individual people or "characters" because consumers are able to interact and personally identify with them. Presidential nominees have the power to command that sort of identity for themselves and to their party- Barack Obama certainly has the ability to, and that was on display at this convention.
But the difference this time is that Obama didn't have to command it, it was already there (certainly something NOT the case in Boston in 2004 or Tampa in 2012). This Party is in fighting shape, the delegates knew it, they could feel it unfolding in real time. Speech after speech, layer upon layer, fact upon fact you could see the Democratic Party give it everything it could from its Presidents past, present, and future because it knows how much is on the line just like the Republicans do. But we have better leaders, and we are winning the next generation and that was on full display in Charlotte.
With as much attention as Texas got inside the convention hall, you'd have thought we were a moderately competitive swing state! We're not, but it is a nod to the future that scares Republicans the most and should inspire Democrats for how sneaky it is.
Below the jump, find out why Mayor Julian Castro will be the 46th President of the United States.
Back in Charlotte, KVUE caught up with BOR's own Joe Deshotel about the convention, our party, and our President. Take a look:
Here's what Joe had to say during the clip:
"It's very clear on social issues he's the most progressive, most forward, most inclusive candidate in this race, and I think the information about the economy has picked up, but it's still slow," said Joe Deshotel, a Texas delegate from Austin. "Obama has said his job is incomplete, and he needs another four years to push his economic agenda and continue to grow the economy."
I guess you could say KVUE is Fired Up and Ready for Joe!
Proud Laredo native, University of Texas graduate and President of College Democrats of America Alejandra Salinas made a strong pitch at the Democratic National Convention for why young voters need to support President Barack Obama. Here's the video:
Alejandra hit the nail on the head in her speech: "Some people say young people aren't excited about this election; that it isn't about us. But the decisions made over the next four years will affect us more than anyone." Young voters need to get back to the polls to support Barack Obama, and we should be eager to do it because of the support Obama has given us.
Healthcare: Insured 3.1 million more young Americans through Obamacare, allowed people to stay on parents' plan to age 26, ended insurance companies' discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions
Education Access: Doubled Pell Grants, reformed student loans, created a path to student debt forgiveness, expanded the GI Bill
Economy and Jobs: 30 straight months of added jobs, 4.6 million new jobs created since he took office
Financial Reform: Signed a law protecting young people from abusive practices of the credit card industry, created Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to prevent worse abuses of big banks
LGBT Rights: Repeated Don't Ask Don't Tell, signed a Hate Crimes Protection Act, first sitting President to publicly support same-sex marriage
Women's Rights and Health: Signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to end sex-based pay discrimination, expanded women's access to birth control and preventative care, supports abortion rights, and supports Planned Parenthood
Clean Energy: Doubled fuel efficiency standards, doubled wind and solar energy sources, invested in 15,000 clean energy projects that provided 225,000 jobs
Immigration: President Obama supports the DREAM Act and has already stopped deportations of DREAM-eligible students.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney wants to shut down Planned Parenthood, opposes marriage equality and the DREAM Act, and wants to return to the robber-baron era of letting fat-cat corporatists rule the country while young people can't afford to get an education or pursue our dreams. Mitt Romney is out of touch with our generation's inclusive, open-minded cultural attitudes, and will do serious harm to our economic and educational opportunities.
Mitt Romney has called young Americans a "lost generation." Now, it's time for us young voters to tell Mitt Romney to get lost. Make sure you're registered to vote at your current address, so you can vote for President Barack Obama this November. Go to GottaRegister.com and get it done NOW. The future you save will be your own.
Want to learn more? Check out the gorgeous Young Americans for Obama website. Meanwhile, the full text of Alejandra's speech below the jump.
Greetings from Charlotte! It's early on the delegation, but the crowd is already up on their feet clapping along to Mavis Staples. Energy is running high, and the arena looks mostly full even though President Obama isn't set to speak for almost five hours. The most notable Texan in the program tonight is Eva Longoria, who joins a star-studded lineup of people eager to see President Barack Obama re-elected. Those of us in Charlotte will be posting photos and tweeting from the floor, while our friends back in Austin will update us from the watch party there.
Update 5:14 p.m. University of Texas student and national president of College Democrats of America Alejandra Salinas (pictured at right) took the stage to outline the many ways that President Obama has helped young voters, from health insurance reform to student loan reform to support for LGBT rights. Great job, Alejandra!
Update 7:13 p.m. The arena is now at capacity and closed. No one else is getting in or out. The seats are full from the floor to the rafters, and empty space is hard to find. The halls are full too -- and don't get me started on the line for the hamburger stand! Despite the crowded quarters, however, folks seem in good spirits as we await the President's big speech tonight.
Update 7:31 p.m. Eva Longoria gave a shout-out to Corpus Christi in her speech and outlined a narrative of American opportunity, in which everyone has the chance to make the most of their dreams and talents. It's a story she and President Obama both embody, and another sharp contrast between one percenter Mitt Romney, who has had every advantage in life and now wants to take away the few opportunities regular Americans have left.
"We're lucky our president understands the value of American opportunity, because he's lived it! And he's fighting to help others achieve it. He's fighting to make college more affordable! He's cut taxes for every working American. He's helping small businesses get loans and has cut their taxes eighteen times. Eighteen times!
That's important-small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America. It's the suburban dad who realizes his neighborhood needs a dry cleaner. It's the Latina nurse whose block needs a health clinic-and she knows she's the one to open it! It's the high school sophomore who is building Facebook's competitor. They are the entrepreneurs driving the American economy, not Mitt Romney's outsourcing pioneers. He would raise taxes on middle-class families to cut his own-and mine. That's not who we are as a nation, and here's why: The Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's flipping burgers-she needed a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not."
Greetings from Charlotte, where the Democratic National Convention heads into its second evening of business, featuring an impressive roster of speakers on a wide range of issues: immigration, small business, women's health, education, and energy. Rather than organize each night of the convention around one individual theme (as the RNC did), the Democrats demonstrate each and every night that we're better on a wide range of issues, and offer a broader array of policy solutions and ideas to address the challenges we face and move America forward.
Tonight's speakers feature a dizzying array of elected officials, candidates, distinguished party leaders, and regular folks who can testify to the positive impact President Obama's first term has had on their lives and livelihoods. Just a cursory glimpse at the prime-time coverage makes clear how much more diverse the Democratic convention is than the DNC in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. Heck, the line for the bathroom here in Charlotte probably has more people of color in it than the entire RNC delegation.
Join us for our liveblog of the event from Charlotte below the jump.
One of the featured speakers tonight is University of Texas grad Austin Ligon, Co-Founder and CEO of CarMax, Inc., the country's largest used auto seller. Ligon is also a well-known and widely respected Texas Ex: along with his wife, Pan Lamsan he donated $1 million to UT's Plan II study abroad program to ensure that students have the opportunity to experience international cultures during their undergraduate years. As Ligon said when he founded the fund, international travel "opened my eyes to the fact that my perspective on the world was just one tiny little portion of the ways in which the world could be viewed."
However, Ligon won't be speaking about the importance of broadening horizons and experiencing diversity -- he'll be talking about why President Obama is better for business than Mitt Romney. During the Republican National Convention Ligon was on hand to rebut erroneous GOP assertions about Obama's economic policies, so it should be interesting to see what he has to say tonight.
Ligon steps on the stage right before a section of the program about President Obama's rescue of the Detroit automakers, which kept manufacturing in America and prevented thousands of workers from being laid off. Given his background with CarMax it's plausible that Ligon could touch on that topic as well. We'll find out later tonight!
Update 7:20 p.m. Cecile Richards just left the stage to thunderous applause. This champion of women's healthcare and proud daughter of Texas gave a great speech about standing with the President who stands with women. She brought a few tears to the eyes of the Texas delegation with a mention of her mother, the late, great Governor Ann Richards:
Twenty-four years ago, my mother, former Texas Governor Ann Richards, spoke to this convention. She reminded us there was a time when folks had to drink from separate water fountains, when kids were punished for speaking Spanish in school, when women couldn't vote. Mom spent her entire life working to make things more fair. She believed the American dream wasn't meant for just a few; it promised opportunity for everyone. Just a couple of years before she passed, Mom had the chance to become friends with a young senator named Barack Obama. She saw in him the promise of the future, and the promise of America-the promise of an America that always moves forward. That's the America we believe in, and that's the future we'll be voting for this November. As women, we've come too far to turn back. And we won't. Mom wouldn't stand for it, and neither will we. So, this November, we're going to keep moving forward, and we are going to re-elect President Obama.
Join us for our liveblog from Charlotte below the jump!
Texans are still aglow from Mayor Julian Castro's keynote address last night. Delegates from across the rest of the nation also seem eager to compliment Texas on promoting a leader to the national stage who isn't a complete and utter disaster.
Overall, energy is high, and delegates are clearly having fun attending caucus meetings and panel discussions. In addition to the official events at the convention center, there are panels and speakers over at The PPL, and plenty of parties, gatherings, and events thrown by progressive organizations. Our Texans are certainly having a good time, as evidenced by how few people were at our delegation breakfast before 8:00 a.m. today!
Here's a quick run-down of what's going on today, and what to expect tonight.
Blogger Briefing with Sandra Fluke: The now-famous Georgetown Law student who spoke up in favor of women's health and helped make a mockery of the GOP in the process stopped by our daily blogger briefing today. She framed the election as a really important choice for women not only on reproductive health issues, but economic ones as well. Mitt Romney refuses to say whether he supports fair pay for women, and has at least admitted he won't "make things worse." That's just downright inspiring. Not.
I asked Fluke if in her travels she thought the message about women's health was getting out past the hyper-informed folks who follow politics closely. She said yes, and that women understand what's at stake and are taking this threat to our healthcare access very seriously. Fluke noted that on the trail she also stresses issues beyond birth control and abortion, including Republican opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and Ryan's support of personhood laws that would make parts of in vitro fertilization illegal. Fluke didn't mince her words: "This election is about information. If you know [Romney] vetoed a bill that would give victims of rape access to emergency contraception in the ER, it's a clear choice."
Texans on the Stage Today: While our delegation is still full of pride over Mayor Castro's speech last night, several more Texans will take the stage and speak to the assembled convention tonight.
Congressman Al Green will be speaking shortly before 6:00 p.m. Texas time along with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After 7:00 p.m., Cecile Richards will take the stage as the cornerstone of the section of tonight's program about women's health. During the 8:00 hour, University of Texas graduate Austin Ligon, Co-Founder and Former CEO of CarMax, will speak about how President Obama rescued the American auto industry. After President Clinton wraps up his remarks, the nomination process will begin, and Texas will vote to nominate President Barack Obama. Should be a long, fun night!
Odds and Ends: Just so you don't feel like you're missing out...
* Our boisterous Texas delegation showed so spirit during Mayor Castro's speech that they caught the eye of the Tumblr Elections blog.
* The Texas Tribune has a good piece on Linda Chavez-Thompson's address to the Latino Caucus today. I spotted LCT on the floor with our delegation last night and she was in high spirits!
* Last but not least, here's a photo of our BOR crew here in Charlotte, hanging out at the Texas delegation party last night. Consider it a caption contest and weigh in on our Facebook page.
We'll start our coverage of the convention proceedings from the arena tonight around 5:30 p.m. Our embedded live-blog will kick off around 7:00 p.m. Check back for more from our merry band of Texans in Charlotte!
This morning I headed out from the Great Wolf Lodge extra early to catch a small discussion with Governor Howard Dean and AFT's Randi Weingarten over at The PPL about education and what we can do as progressives on this crucial issue.
Education looks to be a key issue in Texas this election cycle, after the Republican legislature cut $5 billion from our kids' public schools. Now, Republican Senator Dan Patrick is clamoring to remove even more funding from our communities' public schools via vouchers. These are the kinds of policies that Weingarten and Dean spoke out against, along with other efforts to exacerbate the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots." Weingarten noted that the gap between the rich and poor is wider and starker than it has ever been before, and that our public schools are on the front lines of addressing the needs of the 1 in 4 children that live in poverty. She made clear that public education answers the question of how we as a society can mitigate poverty and provide the best and brightest future for all of our kids.
Dean and Weingarten directly called for bold leadership to address the multitude of crises our students and teachers face. Weingarten described it as a "triple whammy" facing our education system and the people in it: schools are getting cut and losing funding, students aren't getting the information they deserve, and for-profit enterprises are trying to harvest what money remains in our schools through strategies that have been proven not to work for our children. She noted the sharp difference between those of us on the Left trying to make schools and education better using techniques that are proven to get results, and those on the Right who want to tear down our public schools, demonize teachers, and abandon investment in education.
Not surprisingly, the AFT chief -- who is an extremely impressive and inspiring woman, might I add -- called for collective action to remedy what ails our public schools. "Individuals don't have any power without collective action," she stated. We need to stay united and resist right-wing tricks to pit parents against teachers and divide us by socio-economic status. While some kids are born with all the opportunity in the world, there are a whole lot of people that need to have the field leveled in order to achieve their potential. We need to raise up the level of opportunity for those on the bottom. If we want to excel in the STEM fields, Weingarten stated, we must create an environment where kids imagine what it is like to be a scientist. She spoke of 5th graders in New Mexico who were clamoring for science, but due to high-stakes-testing-driven curricula had never had science or social studies classes. She called on those in attendance to help get these stories out and share the on-the-ground struggles faced by our educators.
It was a great session. We need to tell the stories about what is going on in our Texas schools, and get the message out about the dire costs of Republican budget cuts to our Texas schoolchildren. That's definitely something we can bring back from Charlotte and start implementing in our communities, and a great way to keep living our Democratic values long after the convention gavels out.
One of the more moving parts of last night's program was a video tribute to the late Senator Edward Kennedy. His lifetime of advocacy for progressive causes -- healthcare, education, fair wages, voting rights, immigration reform -- lives on today. Every value we hold dear as Democrats and progressives is something that Ted Kennedy fought for during his legendary career.
Beyond honoring Kennedy's own achievements, this video includes a clip of Kennedy debating Mitt Romney in 1994 when the Republican challenged him for US Senate. The clip highlights Romney's previously held support for safe and legal abortion in America, a view Romney has apparently abandoned in an effort to court the right-wing conservatives that dominate his party. Kennedy skewers Romney, and calls him "Multiple Choice" long before it was cool.
Mayor Julian Castro proved to the world tonight that Texas has real leaders ready to meet the challenges of our state and our nation.
In his historic keynote tonight, Castro reminded the rest of the country that we're not just a state of bumbling Republican yahoos who can't count to three, who proffer endless ideological lawsuits intent on ginning up partisan fervor rather than policies that solve the pressing problems facing everyday Texans.
Castro's speech outlined the infrastructure of opportunity that has been a hallmark of his service as Mayor of San Antonio and his brother's service in the Legislature and soon Congress. Castro is not content to see only himself succeed: he wants everyone to have the same opportunity to maximize their potential. His answer to how we multiply the success of one individual is the reelection of Barack Obama and his investment in infrastructure, education, and jobs. As Castro made clear, "opportunity today leads to prosperity tomorrow."
Here in Texas our Republican majority in the Legislature and our Republican governor have already stopped investing in that opportunity, and as a matter of fact are making steep and risky withdrawals from our future, to be paid back dearly by subsequent generations. Slashing billions from education, preventing women from accessing healthcare, running up steep and irresponsible bills that will come due next session, and refusing to be honest about the tremendous challenges facing our state now and in the years ahead -- this is not political courage, but political cowardice.
Meanwhile, President Obama is committed to pursuing the policies that build this opportunity for all, the opportunity that allowed Castro's grandmother, a maid, to see her two grandsons go to Stanford and Harvard and build the foundation for tremendous careers in public service -- as Castro put it, to make sure he was on that stage tonight holding a microphone and not a mop.
President Obama wants to move this country forward and provide that opportunity, a message all of tonight's speeches underscored. Shore up the middle class and build our economy from the middle out, not top-down. Provide opportunity for all, not just those who can afford to live off of their millions in investment income.
This message was not only repeated by but also embodied by tonight's keynote speaker, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. Castro has a bright future ahead of him, in our state and perhaps nationally. But we can't merely hope that leaders like Castro take office and help lead our state back to greatness, to a Texas that provides opportunity for all of us and showcases leaders of which we can be unabashedly proud. It's going to take hard work to turn our state Blue and give leaders like Castro the chance to take the helm. After tonight's speech, however, I think we'll have a whole lot more hands ready to pitch in.
Tonight's the night for Texas, as San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. His speech is scheduled to start after 9:00 p.m. Texas time (8:00 p.m. for those of you in El Paso). Before that, the DNC will conduct business and hear from other speakers, with several Texans playing a prominent role. Watch it all live at DemConvention.com!
Hispanic Democrats and leaders certainly will play a more prominent role here in Charlotte than they did in Tampa, where Canadian Cuban Ted Cruz was one of the few prominent non-Floridians of Hispanic descent to take the mic. Just after 4:00 p.m. Central time the convention will call to order, and during that first hour Mayor Julian Castro will give the report of the Credentials Committee, which he co-chaired (shout out to Karl-Thomas Musselman, who served on the committee). Later on during the 5:00 p.m. Central hour, Congressman Charlie González will join Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez of New York to give remarks from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. González is retiring this year, with State Rep. Joaquin Castro set to follow in his footsteps in Congressional District 20. Gonzalez's father, Henry B. González, who held the seat previously, was one of five original organizers started the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 1976. Castro is stepping into a seat that embodies a long tradition of Hispanic leadership. Mayor Castro's speech will begin after 9:00 p.m. local time. He will be introduced by his brother, Joaquin.
We'll also hear from Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL, Mayor RT Rybak of Minnesota, and Joe Kennedy III, candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, who will follow a video tribute to the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
Update 5:43 p.m. Congressman Charlie Gonzalez spoke on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus about how President Obama's administration has given Hispanics a bigger seat at the table than any administration before. In particular he referenced proud Latina Justice Sonia Sotomayor's appointment to the US Supreme Court. He also noted that Mitt Romney has embraced the extremist anti-immigrant policies of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He closed with a strong economic message about strengthening the middle class and making sure all Americans are equipped to "make their optimum contribution to this country."
"President Obama believes in an America where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; where everyone gets a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules." -- Congressman Charlie Gonzalez
Update 5:49 p.m.
Earlier tonight, the Democratic Party platform passed on the floor. The platform reflects President Obama's forward-looking vision, and an embrace of building our economy from the middle out, not the top down. Meanwhile the Republican Party passed a platform featuring economic policies that hurt the middle class, extremist positions on immigration, women's health, and Medicare.
President Obama and Democrats are working hard to move America forward, while Mitt Romney and the Republican Party want to drag us back to the Middle Ages. I'm glad to be a member of the party whose platform doesn't call for overt discrimination and second-class status for our fellow Americans! Read the platform here.
Update 6:29 p.m. Here's a quick photo of the Texas Delegation on the floor at the convention cheering heartily! See anyone you know?
Below the jump, check out our staff live-tweet blog from 7:00 p.m. onward!