New Hampshire State Convention/Elizabeth Warren (!)
Rather than bore you with the very exciting pre-convention glimpses of candidates, which were exciting in part because they were accompanied by shouts and chants — and in my gal’s case the Warren Peace Band (yes, she had a plan for the pre-game, aided in large part by the most enthusiastic of staffers, decked in glitter and even a tutu; yes, I’m biased because I think we had the best pre-game presence going), I’ll cut to a chase.
Many of you readers and political junkies will have been to a big convention before. I hadn’t (because deep down I am pretty introverted and easily overwhelmed by large crowds and navigating big events). That said, I loved the gathering and the gawking (I got a selfie with Kamala’s husband, Doug, who is, let’s face it, a super spouse and he makes me want a First Husband to exist in 2021). I loved the spirit and the thrumming of democracy, which is actually what’s at stake. It’s always at stake when we are conducting the free and fair electoral process. The stakes are higher when we factor in foreign interference, systemic and unique instances of voter suppression, money subverting democracy and an entire company of bad actors having overtaken the GOP. Outside and then moving into the building there was a lot of fanfare and hope, but murmurs of big anxiety, too. It’s 2019, after all. This is what we’re up against — a lot of truly fine people hoping to overtake an ogre and his orgreous followers (I coined a word, ogreous).
Before any candidate spoke, when the arena was electric and DNC Chair Tom Perez explained to a somewhat distracted crowd: “In order to govern, we must first win,” I texted my peeps that this event was “on par with Taylor Swift.”
There were long lulls in the excitement, because New Hampshire needed to bring out its own (this was their party, after all) and because, I don’t know, that’s how it works — all the leaders have to speak, along with all the candidates and as we know, we’ve got a lot of candidates, still. So, I watched a dad holding a sleeping then awake baby, and befriended the people sitting behind me, and held a play-by-play with my friends, Powell and Karen and also my new friends from Brooklyn just behind us, and kept leaping up to say hi to my Northampton people, who turned out in large numbers, from the high school peeps on out. And I texted dear friends, who have been my sisters in resistance through this era a play-by-play, whether they wanted it or not.
The first person to inspire, and inspire he did, was Cory Booker. His money quote, which the press totally amplified was this: “Beating Donald Trump is the floor, not the ceiling.” He wove in Maya Angelou and “We will rise,” and like the best of Obama, he had us from the beginning of his talk, which chronicled how his parents confronted racism when buying their first house all the way to the mountaintop, with every issue we must tackle in between.
Booker, sandwiched between Biden (“meh at best”) and Buttigieg (Boot Edge Edge, best shirts in the building; “looked a little like a hedgehog, was fine”), “totally crushed it,” according to my flurry of texts.
Julian was truly perfect, a statesman versus an electric candidate, although he hit every right note, including his vision of the moment post-inauguration when Trump and Melania would be about to depart to the waiting helicopter, and he’d say to them: “Adios.” Well, come on, who doesn’t want that moment? We all do.
Kamala Harris, to my mind, crushed it: We are, by our nature, aspirational,” she said, of Americans. That her speech didn’t register according to the national press is sexism, end of story (in my opinion). Or racism. Or both.
Amy Klobuchar spoke, as one is supposed to in New Hampshire I was told by Powell, to New Hampshire, likening her state of Minnesota to theirs in key ways, including the cold. “Amy is good — speaking well to N.H. and going after Trump. But not a winning speech,” I texted.
By then, as you can imagine, the day — five AM departure for New Hampshire — felt like it was 100 hours long and so we stood in lines for bathroom and refreshments while John Delaney spoke and probably everyone wondered what he was even doing there, including, according to a friend who’d stopped at the table to ask a campaign staffer why he was still in the race, the campaign staffers. We got back for Beto. Impassioned about gun control and racism and reparation, he sounded much more radical than his record. I believe there was silent instruction being sent to him from everyone in the room: Please run for Senate. We heard Tim Ryan, who said he’s married to a schoolteacher and proved it by advocating (cool!) for emotional learning and trauma-informed approaches to be incorporated into education.
Style note: you do not have to wear a tie to run for President.
Bernie wore a tie that was not very attractive and also too short. Bernie had the loudest reception of the day to that point, although for Bernie, he seemed muted not fiery. He spoke of “our people,” not all people. I mostly resented him, I’ll be perfectly honest. I shifted my resentment (more like, mild disgust) to Tom Steyer, whose run for this office smacks of self-importance and tremendous wealth and he began by claiming his humble roots, which, however true that could be, has been obfuscated by his billionaire status going to self-fund this run, the opposite of getting money out of politics, dude. I did not find him terribly “coherent or comprehensive.”
That’s okay. We were really just waiting for Elizabeth. I texted: “OMG the loudest longest welcome. Begins with thanks.” And then, I was just listening and screaming and chanting my ass off with everyone else. “She. Crushed. It.”
Outside, in the beautiful September sunshine, she told canvassers, “Go out and do a little door knocking. It’s good for your soul and it’s good for your democracy.” She fielded a long selfie line.
“Thank you for all you’re doing,” I said. She replied, “We can do this.”
But what I also want to say is that the friendships I’ve had or made that have grown deeper because of our shared alarm and conviction and optimism deep enough to imagine the water when the ground is parched, those matter. And that this moment in time has me more convinced in the power of our amazing younger generations. With glitter and boundless hope and energy and skill, they are why we can prevail. Full stop. They factored in hugely when Elizabeth decided to run; she knew she couldn’t do it without them — and I watched her tell them so before she posed with them in the top photograph.
Lastly, this photograph is so my dad, who died in 2018 before kids were reported to be in cages and the Blue Wave overtook the House and before the Squad. I see him in me, and he cared about all of this deeply (democracy, Democrats, justice) and this has me wondering about whether he’d have chosen a candidate and who it would be (I think, yes to that first question and I’m not 100% sure about the second). I haven’t wanted to ask him a question very often at all since he passed away. This wasn’t the very first and certainly won’t be the last, but wow, I wonder! I am grateful I could see him in the photograph and feel him yesterday, if nothing else, being glad his daughter was geeking out about stuff he loved dearly. He did admire the heck out of Elizabeth Warren. So do I.