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My Convention Experience

by Bill Dooling

 Thank you,, for asking me to share a few thoughts about my experience at the Charlotte 2012 Democratic National Convention.

This is the fourth Democratic National Convention that I have attended. Each one of these  have been both uniquely different and pleasantly similar.

The geographic differences of course are obvious but each venue (Atlanta ’88, Boston ’04, Denver and this year Charlotte) provided the visiting convention delegates with a unique opportunity to visit an American city that would work hard to put on its best welcoming face.

On this fine Friday morning Democrats, especially my fellow Massachusetts delegates are leaving Charlotte pretty "fired up and ready to go” and very happy with the convention that they participated in this past week.

The excitement for the MA delegation began with Governor Patrick’s spectacular speech on Tuesday night.  It increased with Elizabeth Warren’s excellent speech introducing herself to the country by outlining her ongoing battle attacking the economy wrecking abuses of Wall Street to the country.  And last night it culminated with Senator Kerry’s humorous skewering of the silliness of Mitt Romney’s flawed forays into foreign policy. Of course the brilliant speeches by Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and President Clinton served as excellent warm-up speeches for President Obama terrific acceptance speech last night. So having just returned from our hotel lobby I can report that although we are happy Democrats, we are also very tired delegates whose past four days started with an 8:00 AM working breakfast and generally ended with a post midnight political kibitzing social reception.

The memories and reflections I’ll retain on the week my wife Carol and I spent in Charlotte will be both personal and political. Both Carol and I have been most impressed with the hospitality, graciousness and patience of all of the local citizens who we came in contact with over the course of our week’s stay. Convivial conversations with fellow delegates or other visitors were a daily fare for both of us. Chance interviews with local TV or print reporters were occurring in and around the convention center throughout the week.  In fact while reading this morning’s edition of USA Today, I read a quote I had given the reporter the other evening when we happen to have been sitting next to each other on the way to Wednesday evening’s speeches.

Over the course of the week I have had great conversations with most of our MA Congressional delegation as well as Governor Patrick the day after his phenomenal speaking performance. On Sunday, I fulfilled my Credentials’ Committee responsibilities.  So on Monday and Wednesday my personal memories will stem from participating in a terrific Democratic National Committee Veterans and Military Families Council (VMFC) meeting. I have been a regional director of the DNC’s VMFC since ’05 and organized the first of these Veterans’ meeting at the ’04 Boston Convention. Both of these Charlotte meetings attracted over 450 veterans and military family members.  At the Wednesday meeting Dr Jill Biden and her Iraq veteran son Beau addressed our group of proud veterans and their families. Both meetings were very productive and on occasion quite moving and emotional.

For me another personal memory was being asked to make about a five-minute presentation to an audience of over 400 NEA, AFSCME and SEIU union members about why a retired Massachusetts public school teacher will support President Obama over former Governor Romney. It was an easy and, for this Democrat, an enjoyable request to fulfill.

But a memory I will most likely keep for a long while was a chance meeting and memorable conversation with a fellow Credentials' Committee member Arizona State Senator Anna Tovar. Anna had just been elected on August 28th to the Senate in Arizona after having served as elected state representative for eight years. We talked about a number of topics and of course politics was a big part of the menu and in particular questions about Governor Jan Brewer, who felt no compunction about thrusting her finger into the face of the President of the United States. We all probably remember the now famous picture.

I asked her what she did before her political career and Anna informed me that she had been a kindergarten-first grade teacher who one day had a colleague close a door on her arm that caused it to bruise badly. The bruise was very slow to heal and finally her husband suggested that she see her primary care doctor. She did and he ordered blood work; when the results came in the next day her doctor called to say that he had scheduled an appointment with an oncologist for the next day. The oncologist did some painful bone marrow tests on a Friday. Anna rested over the weekend and went back to teaching on Monday. Her primary care doctor called her at school and told her that she had to leave work immediately and come to his office. She was admitted to the hospital that day.

Anna underwent two transplants and was close to death’s door. She told me with tear- filled eyes that when she was recovering from her last successful medical procedure that her mother informed her that “God must have an important mission for her”. Her doctor informed her that she couldn’t return to teaching and so she eventually ran and won a Representative seat. Anna said that as a state representative she engaged in an almost year long battle with Arizona’s finger-pointing governor. Anna was battling the governor to restore one million dollars that Governor Brewer had slashed from the budget for subsidizing organ transplants. Anna told me that the funds were restored but not before three of the 99 waiting recipients had died.

When I asked Senator Tovar what she might be doing now if she hadn’t been afflicted with such a life threatening illness she said that she thought that she would still be teaching kindergarten-first grade while she and her husband raised their two sons. I tell this story because I think that at any Democratic National Convention there are probably hundreds of stories from individual delegates who have overcome personal adversities to achieve extraordinary success.

So when people ask me what I thought of the Convention I truthfully tell them about the great speeches, but mostly I truly enjoy just meeting my fellow average American who frequently have compelling life stories.

Bill Dooling



Comments (1)

good article Bill Well done

carol dooling | 2012-09-11 21:34:55