Editor’s Note: Darren Rigger, a member of the Peekskill Common Council, was asked to share a few observations about the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
It was an amazing experience. I had been to four others, but this one was the best in terms of speeches and messages.
Yes, Charlotte was wonderful and the Carolinians were super friendly, but the conventions are really about the message being sent out from the Democratic Party as to why people should vote for our candidates.
The single best speech of the convention was that of President Bill Clinton. The audience in the room was enraptured with what he was saying. He seriously could have spoken for another hour and no one would have minded. He has an amazing ability to break complex issues down in a clear way that everyone can understand. My favorite part of his speech was when he said his answer to the question as to how he took the largest deficit in history and turned it into the largest surplus in history was – one word, arithmetic.
He made it clear that tax breaks for the wealthy alone was not the answer to what ills our economy.
One thing that struck me about this convention was the activism of women’s organizations. Groups like Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List had a very strong presence. They had women organizers on almost every street corner, they held events and they spoke out at every occasion. These groups feel strongly that the GOP is leading a ‘War on Women’ and they are committed to fighting back. Many expressed disappointment that they had to re-fight battles that their mothers and grandmothers had to fight. From pay equity, to reproductive rights to redefining rape, we saw their issues in almost every speech.
Our Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made an excellent point as part of a women’s forum. She said that although women make up more than 51 percent of the vote, they only make up 17 percent of Congress. And that if women made up 51 percent of Congress, you can be sure they would not be debating birth control but rather jobs and the economy.
Overall, I believe the upcoming election offers a stark choice between a group of people who want to continue moving forward and a group who would like to go back to the same old failed policies we saw under George Bush. The people who attended the convention left fired up and ready to go!