By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
The big party has finally arrived in Denver, Colorado. After months of anticipation, the delegates are in the city and ready to take care of party business…and the business of parties and receptions.
Beyond all the speeches, the marches and protests, Obama and his advisors while making the rounds from party to party, will be working on getting the Hillary Clinton supporters on their side. The social events provide a nice background to pressure Hillary supporters to come on board and work for the Obama candidacy.
Some pundits have said that the party convention is outdated, unnecessary, and just a way to reward the party faithful for all of their work leading up to the convention. That may be true, but this time, it gives the Obama people an opportunity to lobby the delegates who have not sworn their loyalty to Obama.
Meanwhile, we have thousands of protesters that have shown up to march and rally around their issues of concern. We have “end the war protesters”, “anti-abortion proponents”, “gay lobbyists”, “immigration reform marchers”, and the Denver Police as the barrier between chaos and lawlessness.
Already on the first day, posturing back and forth by protesters and the riot trained police, protesters seemed to be testing how far they could push the police. The rest of the week may prove to be very interesting as protesters continue to push their agendas.
At least for now, the message of the protesters is not completely clear, as protest signs and protesters sometimes seemed contradictory and a bit confused on how to react to the large police presence. The City and DNCC officials have worked out a “protest cage” where protesters will be allowed to gather and rally near the Pepsi Center.
The protesters are not pleased with this location and have already gone to the courts asking for relief and wanting a better 1st Amendment location for their rallies. The protesters want to be within sight and sound of the delegates as they go about their business at the Pepsi center. Chances are they will have to accept the current arrangement or who knows, we may see a more aggressive stance by the protesters.
Meanwhile, many other organizations have planned forums, panel discussions, religious events, and rallies for delegates and other convention visitors looking for things to do. It is definitely a good time to network with other national leaders and colleagues, and push agendas and ideas on issues and concerns facing our nation.
After three days of prime time speeches and the nomination of Senator Joe Biden as Vice President at the Pepsi Center, the last night of the convention moves to INVESCO Field @ Mile High Stadium, the home of the Denver Broncos. The football stadium gives Obama a larger audience for his acceptance speech on national networks and cable channels.
From the fifty-yard line, Obama will give his acceptance speech as the party’s nominee for President. Truly an historical event as the first African American is nominated for the office of the U.S. Presidency. Before a potential audience of 75,000 partisans, images of Berlin come to mind. In Berlin, over 200,000 Berliners gathered to see and witness the Obama spectacle. Shouting “Obama, Obama” their voices rang through the air in Berlin, leaving the impression at least that Berliners would vote for him.
While it was an impressive sight and sound, it does not change the fact that Obama cannot separate himself from McCain in the “American polls.” Polls show either McCain or Obama ahead by two or three points. A dead heat at this point.
After what many considered a slam-dunk for the Democrats in November, the issue of party unity seems to have created a divide that is proving not so easy to overcome. After eight years of Bush and Republican policies, surprisingly McCain is running stronger than most pundits expected.
A Wall Street Journal poll shows that 21% of the Democrats that supported Hillary Clinton for president will vote for McCain. 27% of them are still undecided, which is not a good sign. Only 52% of Hillary Democrats will support Obama.
So while the national news media reports on protesters and marches, behind the scenes, Obama advisors are trying desperately to unite the party. Without the Hillary supporters, Obama knows he simply cannot win.
Obama seems to be making rookie mistakes as he moves to consolidate the support of the partys behind him. There are numerous reports that Obama did not even interview Hillary for the position of vice president, or even give her a heads up that he had decided on Senator Joe Biden as his choice. By snubbing Hillary, some Hillary supporters are more determined not to support Obama.
One should not forget that Hillary Clinton received the support of 18 million supporters during the primaries. I do not see how Obama can overlook the fact that 18 million voters essentially voted against him. Not a good start to the movement of uniting the party.
So back to Thursday night at INVESCO Field with 75,000 partisans shouting “Obama, Obama,” they will be hard pressed to deliver the right message of party unity. It will only bring back to memory the celebrity candidacy of Obama, and not someone who needs to show that he has the ability to unite the Democrats.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212