Once again I stayed up late in my quiet house, way past my bedtime. I blame my parents, despite the fact that they are almost a thousand miles away and Bill Clinton, despite the fact that I have never met him.
You see, my Mom and Dad have done a great many amazing things in their lives and now, when they have every right to just hang out on their deck drinking iced-teas, they have chosen and, in fact, worked quite hard to become delegates for Massachusetts to the Democratic National Convention. Though I might have tuned in anyway, their presence there ensured that we got through bedtime and clean-up and hustled down to the TV room to catch a bit of the action. And boy, was there action and just like the slogan goes, I got “fired up”.
I was just in time to see Elizabeth Warren and her speech was straightforward and no-nonsense, and she closed with passion and heart.
And then came Bill. Oh Bill. I’ve spent a long time with bittersweet feelings about our erstwhile President. He was the first President I ever voted for. His knowledge, charisma and dedication made me feel empowered and inspired to believe that government and public service was an honorable calling, but his fall from grace has nagged at me since.
Watching President Clinton’s speech the other night, I felt that inspiration return. With wit, intelligence, and respect for the audience, he expounded on Barack Obama’s achievements, his character, his plan for the future and the difference between the parties (and yes, there is a huge difference). It felt like I was sitting in on the country’s coolest Political Science course, with…like…the best Professor ever! But seriously, he made me, the viewer, feel smart and excited and informed. He made me believe that, just maybe, government could reclaim its position of honor.
Many often ask, “why bother with a national convention for the incumbent when you know exactly who the nominee will be,” obviously no one was going to challenge President Obama for the Democratic ticket. The point, the pundits say, is to mobilize the base, inspire everyday people into democratic action; registering new voters, spreading the word, getting involved in local races, etc. Well, it worked, at least for this new mom.
I have a million little chores that eat up my days; no doubt this is how the first year of a baby’s life disappears in the blink of an eye. They are mundane, though not necessarily unimportant, one must feed one’s child after all. But I will not allow another week to pass without logging into the Obama and Warren phone banks and making some calls to do my small part to help their campaigns achieve victory in November. And if you read this, you should too. It is not enough to exist inside this democracy, you must work to maintain it, otherwise you will get exactly the government you deserve. Around the world there are people who would die for the chance to cast a vote. My late grandmother Fay told me stories of the time in our own country when women were not allowed to vote and it did not seem like so long ago.
My parents taught me to respect and engage in this profound responsibility. As I watched Day three of the Convention unfolding in Charlotte, I felt exhilaration and pride that they were in the thick of the event; meeting people, sharing ideas, bearing witness to great oratory, and of course, rocking out to the Foo Fighters. Indeed, even the musical lineup reflects the wonderful diversity and inclusiveness of my chosen political party, including James Taylor, Mary J. Blige and a captivating rendition of our National Anthem from Marc Anthony.
Now, while I stave off the sleep that is stubbornly advancing over me, I think of Amelia as I listen to President Obama’s bold and brave words. I will strive to emulate her grandparents in their passion and conviction in participating in our great country’s democracy. I will do my part and teach Amelia how to be a citizen, of the United States, of Canada, and of the world.