Aug 29, 2008

Convention watching party brings out new faces and volunteers

BRIGHTON – Barack Obama knocked it out of the park, literately, in his acceptance speech Thursday night in front of more than 80,000 people at Mile High Stadium in Denver and millions more watching on TV.

I was one of those watching on TV, but I got to share that historic moment with a room full of dedicated and excited Democrats at a convention watching party – one of thousands all across the country – sponsored by the Barack Obama Campaign for Change at Memories Lounge and Restaurant.

There were more than a 100 people there to watch the historic event, and it was so crowded, it spilled over onto the dance floor where another large screen TV was set up. As you came in and checked in, people were given a package and asked to call 10 people to ask and encourage them to watch the first African-American to accept a major party nomination for President on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and march on Washington. We combined fun with some campaigning.

It was fun and moving to share that moment with my fellow Democrats. Field Reps from the Obama campaign were on hand, and sales of Obama t-shirts and buttons were brisk. What was even more exciting to me was how few people I knew.

I go to almost every function of the Livingston County Democratic Party, so I know most of the county Democrats – who are currently the minority party in Livingston County – either by name or by face. So, I was pleasantly surprised that I knew so few people. Everyone at my table began the evening as strangers. I met a very nice couple from Pinckney who are loyal Democrats and anxious to begin volunteering. This bodes well for Obama and the future of Livingston County.

The speeches were fantastic. I was even moved by the personal stories of the everyday people who came up to tell their story, like the auto worker from Taylor. The thought that immediately came to mind for me was how calm they were facing 80,000 people and speaking like they were talking to their neighbor across the fence. Is there anything scarier than public speaking? The only thing I can think of is four more years of Bush/McCain.

My favorite was Barney Smith from Marion, Ind., whose job was shipped offshore. My wife lived in that area until her parents had the good sense to move to Michigan when she was just four, but he had one of the best lines of the night: "We need a president who cares as much about Barney Smith as Smith Barney."

Obama clearly made a great case for why he should be president. But I will let my friends at Michigan Liberal and Blogging for Michigan who were there describe the moving and practical speech.

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