Well, finally the Convention week is here, we know who the Vice President is going to be so we can order our hats, buttons and new car magnet bumper stickers. Whew, the timing was close. I was afraid that I would not be able to get all my paraphernalia in order! As an old Convention hand, I know how important it is to be current or people look at you strangely. In 2000, I had all the Gore/ Bradley outfits picked out and you can imagine how embarrassing that was for me. Of course, the world would have been a better place now if that had happened!
So the suspense is over and our the second half of our ticket will be Delaware Senator Joe Biden.
To me, "blue-collar Joe" is an excellent choice. Biden has been a key part of the United States Senate for over three decades and one of its most important voices on foreign affairs, security and justice issues. A strong advocate of civil rights and peace, he brings a seasoned veteran approach to this exciting ticket. While he voted for the Iraq Resolution, for the last couple of years he has been a strong opponent of the war. In addition, given all the times he ran for Senator in Delaware he saturated the airways with his ads from the Philadelphia media market which means all those suburban counties surrounding the City Of Brotherly Love know him well. He is a Catholic, which helps in a number of states. Finally, his son is Attorney General of Delaware and is being deployed to Iraq which is not a small matter considering McCain's son is in Iraq. Obama/Biden is a powerful ticket. It even has alliteration!
My first Democratic Convention was in 1964 in Atlantic City. My sister Patsy and I caught the bus and went down to the city by the sea. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was protesting outside the Convention Hall with Joan Baez singing freedom songs. We saw Adlai Stevenson, Peter, Paul and Mary and Paul Newman. We were so united in our opposition against Barry Goldwater and his threat to use 'the bomb'. The main issue of the Convention was the seating of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party delegation which in essence failed. That is where the civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer (at left) famously said, " I am sick and tired of being sick and tired."
In 1968, it was the Convention from hell. Torn apart by the War in Vietnam and the fight over the segregated delegations from Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. You can get my television interview with Connie Chung at the end of this posting. It will take you right back to Chicago, 1968!
In 1972, Jim Foster from San Francisco was the first openly gay person to speak to a national political convention. He was put on at 2AM in the morning by the McGovern people to avoid a backlash. That was the Convention when the delegates nominated everyone and their brother to be Vice President. Senator Eagleton was picked but had to later withdraw because of a history of depression. Sargent Shriver, Maria's dad, was named as a replacement.
In 1976, I was for Jerry Brown who was Governor of California at the time. We loved old Governor Moonbeam but he never was a serious contender. It was the first Convention where I was out of the closet.
In 1980, it was the epic battle of President Jimmy Carter vs Senator Ted Kennedy. Governor Brown was running too, but never was a serious player except maybe to hurt Teddy. The highlight of that Convention was Teddy's "The Dream Will Never Die" - still one of the epic speeches of any Convention. The electricity in the hall was so exceptional, his words so incredibly moving, that I remember sitting in the galleries, almost not breathing.
In 1984, I was CoChair of Senator Gary Hart's California delegation. For us, this was the first candidate of the baby boomer generation. I remember sitting in a row with Congressman Henry Waxman, Gloria Allred and Warren Beatty chanting the song from DAMN YANKEES, "Heart" and changing the words to... "We've got Hart, All you really need is Haaaaaart...!". Of course, the moving moment of the Convention was voting for the first woman, Geraldine Ferraro, to be nominated for Vice President. This convention also gave us another great speech with New York Governor Mario Cuomo's keynote.
In 1988, I refused to go to the Convention since Mike Dukakis's campaign refused to accept organized contributions from the LGBT community.
In 1992, was the LGBT convention! Bob Hattoy and Roberta Achtenberg gave speeches to the Convention in prime time. President Bill Clinton became the first nominee to use the word 'gay' in his acceptance speech. We were beside ourselves. How far we have come now!
I refused to attend the 1996 convention because of Clinton's support of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In 2000, it was in my backyard - Los Angeles. This one was about Al Gore and our hopes of continuing beyond the eight years of Clinton. I had great box seats and realized that I was getting older and more accepted as part of the Party establishment, which was a real eye opener. It was also a grand time personally as BRAVE JOURNEYS, the book I wrote with Dennis Bailey, debuted that week at number 1 on the Los Angeles Times Best Seller list!
Finally in 2004, I was an old time convention goer. Held teas in the Four Seasons for Gavin Newsom, Elliot Spitzer and others. Never stepped foot in the Boston Convention Hall because of the massive over crowding. My favorite time was being included in a small dinner for Teddy and Vicki Kennedy.
So the annual four year ritual is here again. This time I shall be watching from Turkey Hollow with young correspondents for davidmixner.com doing the heavy lifting in Denver. But I have my Obama car magnet sticker, my Obama fan to cool off with and my Obama baseball cap so I am all prepared to be part of this historical time.