Actress and activist Ashley Judd speaks at the Women’s Caucus at the Democratic National Convention
I’ve been home from the Democratic National Convention for three days now and am barely beginning to recover from my wild adventure. The days were wickedly long, jam-packed from 7:00 AM-12:00 AM and unbelievably fun.
Each day started with a special breakfast for our Wisconsin delegation in the hotel ballroom. After filling our bellies with eggs, potatoes, breakfast meats, pancakes, danishes, toast and fruit, we were treated to a wonderful program of speakers each morning. We heard from members of Congress, like Representatives Ron Kind, Tammy Baldwin, and Gwen Moore, all of Wisconsin, plus Rep. Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin also made time to talk to us, as did former Senator Russ Feingold. Labor leaders such as AFSCME President Lee Saunders spoke to us, as did NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan. In addition, several Obama campaign advisors and administration officials, who insisted they were there as private citizens, stopped by.
I have so much more to say about the delegation breakfasts that I plan to devote an entire blog post to them tomorrow. Please check back then to learn more about the wisdom and inspiration I gained while sipping orange juice and soaking in the brilliance of folks like John Nichols and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Breakfast usually ended around 9:00 AM, which gave you just enough time to hop on the convention shuttle from the hotel to the convention center downtown before the day’s caucuses and councils began. These optional meetings ran in two-hour blocks beginning at 10:00 AM and running through 4:00 PM and gave like-minded people the opportunity to learn more about the issues at the:
Native American Council
Veterans and Military Families Council
Small Business Owners Council
*I believe, but don’t quote me on this, that “AAPI” stands for “Asian-American Pacific Islander”
I had planned to attend both the Disability Caucus, which met on Monday and Wednesday, and the Women’s Caucus, which met on Tuesday and Thursday. While I was able to marshal my energies to get to both gatherings of the Women’s Caucus, my disabilities kept me from getting to the Disability Caucus. Yes, you read that right: I was too disabled to go to the Disability Caucus. As I wrote last Monday from my comfy hotel bed in Charlotte, I was flat-out exhausted:
My body isn’t cut out for days that start out at 2:00 AM CST and run until 11 PM EST with minimal napping on the flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. I overslept this morning and after breakfast, decided to skip the rest of today’s optional events in favor of resting up for a very long (and awesome) day tomorrow. The irony here is that my disabilities prevented me from attending the Disability Caucus I wanted to get to today. Hopefully, I will feel well enough to get there on Wednesday.
Despite my best intentions, I did not get to the Disability Caucus on Wednesday, but I was able to attend both sessions of the Women’s Caucus. I loved most about Women’s Caucus was its incredible sense of sisterhood, best expressed by the lovely Ashley Judd, herself a delegate from Tennessee:
I needed your church. This is the gospel of social justice.
Judd went on to remind us that “our vote is our voice and our voice is our vote,” a sentiment echoed by nearly all of the other panelists in some fashion. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that women have the most to gain by re-electing President Obama. Similarly, caucus chair Mame Reiley who said that Obama has brought women’s empowerment into world politics. (See: Clinton, H.) Stephanie Shriock, president of EMILY’s List, did some truth-telling, saying that Republicans basically want to send women back to the kitchen. (It does feel like that sometimes.)
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, also spoke the truth when she said that Republicans think the answer to unemployment is hidden in our uteruses. (Love that!) Richards quoted the late, great Nora Ephron (“be the heroine of your own life”) to motivate us to get out the vote for pro-choice candidates this fall.
During Thursday’s session of the Women’s Caucus, I was wildly impressed by the DNC’s embrace, which is, of course, the Obama campaign, of women’s “new media” networks like MomsRising and the Women’s Media Center. Kristin Finkkbeiner-Rowe of MomsRising emphasized the power women haven, even though we cannot be lumped into a single constituency such as “soccer moms”, while WMC’s Jehmu Greene rocked the house while talking about using the power of new media to effect change. (Seriously, Jehmu rocked.) The highlight of Thursday’s caucus was the late arrival of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. ‘Nuff said.
Tomorrow: More highlights and quotes from the delegation breakfasts!