lessons from America

Denver Diary – Mon 25 Aug

“This November again the torch will be passed to a new generation of Americans.”  Wow. Deep intake of breath time.  There could only be one man alive who could so meaningfully invoke JFK’s famous image, and that man is Senator Edward Kennedy. Here in Denver tonight we have witnessed something special in terms of Democratic history, dynasty and symbolism.

But first back to the beginning of the day. I walked down 16th Street Mall and here are some of the sights and merchandise I passed, including that infamous Obama action doll.




And so to the Big Tent. 


Here are some views of the hive of activity, networking and blogging that is the ground floor:


People I chatted to today included the official Maine State blogger and a precinct captain from Pasedena, California.


I also attended several sessions upstairs at the Digg Stage.  A veritable who’s who of progressive politics and community-building, including Markos, Arianna Huffington, John Podesta et al.  Surprisngly, these events weren’t as well attended as I expected and that they merited.


Away from the hall, I did a radio interview with a New York progressive radio station WBAI 99.5FM.  They have a news show called ‘Building Bridges’ and they asked me to give a UK perspective on the Convention so far and on my impressions of the US progressive movement.  I was on with two other bloggers / non-profit campaigners and the entire thing lasted 20 mins.

Then it was back to the Tent for dinner and following the coverage of the opening night of the Convention. Teddy Kennedy’s speech was so emotional.  The crowd in the Big Tent was applauding and shouting.  The crowd in the Convention Hall (on screen sadly) went just wild.  Senator Edward Kennedy’s live appearance and speech was powerful stuff, full of poignancy and meaning.  He even promised he’ll be on the Senate floor come January. 

Michelle Obama tugged at different heartstrings. Sitting in front of me in the Big Tent three Chicago natives whooped it up at her entrance.  There were big cheers when Michelle mentioned (and praised) Hillary – the “18 million cracks on the glass ceiling”.  Someone pipped up “that’ll be the only story tonight … she mentioned Hillary”.  Cue lots of laughs.  It got qute buzzy; the speech went down very well, aided probably by the free beers at the Big Tent. And with a crescendo of phrases that echoed her husband’s soaring rhetoric and campaign messages she ended her speech … and the screams and applause continued for a quite a while.


The humanising of Barack, projecting him as an ordinary guy for those people who still see him as elitist and out-of-touch, then went into absolute overdrive. Immediately after Michelle’s speech you had a live video link up with Barack.  Michelle and the kids on stage, Barack on the screen.  Sasha and Malia talking to their dad, we all went “ahh, that is so sweet” and laughed and cooed and cheered. It seemed so natural, so happy families, so cheesy, apple-pie ‘American’.  It was a winner here in the Tent.  It seems to be a winner on the blogs. And I reckon it is likely a vote winner more widely; a step towards that goal of the Obama’s becoming the First family. 

Back to my evening. I finally made it out of the Tent and back to my host’s watering hole, the champagne bar where Tyler works.  The alcohol flowed into our glasses and beautiful people flowed through the door.  But politics wasn’t entirely absent …




August 26, 2008 Posted by | Denver Diary | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Denver Diary – Sat 23 August

My first root beer float.  That’s a good abiding memory to have of a day.  Photo will come, but need to download it from my phone.  The other great part of that brunch dining experience was the free shots of whisky (and ginger ale chasers) from the diner / bar where we ate.  My hosts are regulars there, so they get good treatment. 

And then, after an afternoon of relaxing, it was time to head to my first – and one of the only – big sponsored offical Convention events I am able to go to.  This one was the Media Welcome Party / celebrate the host city party. My flatemate’s father is a journo and had a spare pass to it, which I eagerly accepted.  The event took place in Elitch Gardens, a theme park adjacent to Downtown Denver.  Opened up to delegates / the media for the evening, with free food and alcohol, free goes on some of the rides and games, street theatre and entertainment, plus a concert too. Awesome.  The Obama influence / effect was perhaps responsible for the inclusion of an acrobatic dance troupe from Kenya.


Official proceedings in the arena kicked off with the National Anthem.

Then time for speeches from the dignataries.  A veritable who’s who of Colorado’s finest politicians – Senator Ken Salazar, Governor Bob Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper – and a good reminder of the recent Democrat success in this State.


And then on to the part that many of the locals had been waiting for: a live concert by the very talented, wonderfully political and progressive and recently signed (and hopefully breaking into the big time) Denver band ‘The Flobots’.  Top show by them. Hip-hop with political lyrics, and the bonus of a violinist to soften the musical edge and give the tunes a different flavour.  The Flobots have a new fan in me … and in many of the non-Coloradan residents at the show who had never heard them before.


Towards the end of the concert there was an impromptu audience chant of yes we can

The evening’s programme ended with a firework display, though the drinking and eating and funfair rides continued for a while longer.

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Denver Diary, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment