JOURNALIST AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER Kelly Candaele reports for LARB from the DNC. His dispatches from the convention floor include interviews with members of Congress, authors and experts, as well as his own impressions on developing events.
In this second of the two-part series, he offers a concluding commentary on the Democratic convention, the issues it raised or avoided, and the implications of the 2012 presidential campaign on everyday Americans. Also included are his interviews with Eric Foner, the DeWitt Professor of History at Columbia University and one of the country's most prominent historians., and Stewart Wood, advisor to Ed Milliband, Leader of the British Labour Party.
Donkey Painting © Lisa Jane Persky
By Kelly Candaele
I arrived at my hotel in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention after midnight last Sunday. The local weather forecast indicated that the humidity was 77%, which in Los Angeles, is called rain. Around the Blake hotel pool, delegates, elected officials from California, activists and and journalists talked politics, predictions and parties — as in which parties would be the best ones to attend while here. A young man sat in a lounge chair at the edge of the pool loudly reading a political speech, apparently to himself, while everyone within hearing distance moved discreetly away. He went on for twenty minutes.
Most of the delegates around the pool were African American and Latino. This was not Tampa. Three blocks away a large brightly lit sign sat atop a ten-story building. Red white and blue letters spelled out the word NASCAR. This was not the North.
The makeshift party dissipated around 2 a.m. The young orator near the pool finished his speech and got up to leave. As I’m inexplicably drawn towards eccentrics, I asked him what he was doing. He looked like any number of people I have seen hanging around political campaigns that I’ve worked on during my thirty years or so in politics. This guy looked disheveled and bewildered, which, come to think of it, is not unlike many veteran political operatives I’ve met over the years. But he was clearly not all there mentally. “I’m just trying to make a difference,” he said before starting on a long incoherent ramble about Richard Nixon, (why is it always Nixon?) local corruption and how generally messed up the world was. I said good night and walked towards the elevator, hearing his hectoring voice calling after me as my elevator doors closed. As I rode up to the 12th floor exhausted, I asked myself whether the guy might actually be right. Maybe everyone at the Charlotte convention was simply trying to make a difference, to leave some small mark on the map.
I attended the Denver Democratic Party Convention four years earlier. Then, the delegates were not thinking about small marks on our political map, but “transformative” change, ...read more