Diary of a delegate

Behind the scenes at the Democratic convention

Jo-Ann White
September 18, 2008

Attending the Democratic Convention as a Democrats Abroad delegate last month in Denver was one of the greatest moments of my life. There I witnessed democracy at work as delegates and volunteers from all over the world came together for a common cause: nominating Barak Obama as the Democratic candidate for President.


More than just a nomination platform, the convention is a quadrennial ritual that highlights the Party's positions on a wide range of socio-political issues. It showcases the politicians who work to help their fellow citizens, and honors the everyday people who voluntarily impart their time and money based on the belief that politics really does matter. Only through an engaged citizenry can we expect to keep democracy strong, vibrant and pertinent. The city of Denver was transformed by those present and by their hope, commitment, passion and above all, willingness to roll up their sleeves and make change a reality. One of the most surprising aspects was the willingness of the party's VIPs to talk to us. As a delegate abroad, I was able to obtain meetings with my home state's heavy-hitters such as Governor Deval Patrick, Senator John Kerry, Congressman John Tierney, and Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, John Walsh. When I explained our work in registering Americans living overseas for absentee ballots through www.VoteFromAbroad.org, they immediately wanted to know how they could help. This wasn't just talk: their staff were brought into these meetings and given concrete tasks, objectives and deadlines. In addition to high-level meetings, there was the press! At a certain point I stopped keeping track of how many interviews I gave, but I can tell you the most exciting were with The New York Times, CNN International, BBC, RAI, TG5, NPR, AP, French television and my hometown newspaper in Massachusetts. Every time I told them that I lived in Florence, their response was the same: ‘I'm so jealous, you're so lucky!' And they are right, of course!


Besides the honor of serving as a delegate and the thrill of meeting so many people who are fighting the good fight, I was grateful for the chance to talk about the importance of the overseas vote. Many offered to spread the word by promoting VoteFromAbroad.org so that we can be certain our voices are heard, and each and every one of our votes are counted.

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