This isn’t a political post. It’s a post about being an American.
I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, a Republican, an independent, a Libertarian or a socialist. You can be some of all of the above or none of the above. Just please don’t be a nihilist (“We believes in nothzing, Lebowski”).
We’re all Americans, and each and every one of us over the age of 18 (well, except for felons, and I’m not sure how many felons read the musings of a snarky suburban mom) has a right that many of our forefathers and foremothers fought tirelessly for — the right to vote.
I love to vote. I admit I wasn’t great about it in college. But how was I supposed to remember to request an absentee ballot every year? I should have followed Missy‘s lead and registered to vote in New York.
After college, I moved to DC and worked for a major news network, so I was a registered independent. That meant that not only could I hardly ever vote (no primaries) but my vote barely counted at the federal level (DC does not have a voting member of Congress, although it does get Electoral College votes, so there’s that). Therefore, I proudly displayed my Taxation Without Representation license plate. Stupid unfair system.
Since moving to Florida in 2003, though, I have voted in every single city, county, state and federal election. Even if there are only two supervisors of soil and dirt candidates on a ballot, I’m hitting the polls. It’s an amazing right that far too many take for granted and don’t exercise.
Another thing we all take for granted is the ability to gather peacefully for political rallies. Pick up a newspaper, my friends, and see how rare that right still is in many parts of the world.
Tonight, my family exercised that right … along with 2,000 of our closest friends.
I don’t care which side of the aisle you sit on, you can’t deny that there are few speakers in the world as entertaining, passionate and engaging as former President Bill Clinton. He’s a master, and his recent speech at the Democratic National Convention reminded so many of us why he remains one of the most popular presidents in history.
When we heard he was coming to Orlando, we knew we wanted to go but they were distributing tickets on Monday while DadJovi and I were both at work. My friend Jessica from The Unemployed Mom waited three hours for her ticket in Orlando and Andrea from Run, Eat, Date Sleep waited over an hour! But then on Tuesday, Jessica tweeted that she’d just picked up two more tickets at the downtown Obama offices and there was no line. DadJovi rushed over there from his office and grabbed tickets for the two of us (they said E. didn’t need one). Score!
Doors opened at 4:30, but since we both worked and had things we had to do this afternoon, we didn’t end up getting there until closer to 5:30. All of the seats were gone but at least there wasn’t a line to get in anymore! Jessica got there early and her family was lucky enough to get seats 11 rows back from the stage!
We were in the back in the standing room only area but it frankly worked out better for us. There was plenty of room for E. to walk around. OK, fine, she basically spent the whole time sitting on the floor playing games on DadJovi’s phone. But at least there was room to breathe and DadJovi didn’t have to experience crowd freakout like at Legoland.
And we quickly found a familiar face. Hi Andrea!
And there were other benefits to standing in the back — we were front row for the musical entertainment.
I forget the group’s name but they were adorable. They have some song about Obama that’s on YouTube (if I wasn’t so tired, I’d try and find it for you guys), plus they performed some Bob Marley and Boyz II Men.
In the front of the room, politicians were taking turns warming up the crowd. We missed Alan Grayson but we came in during Rep. Corrine Brown and saw all of Grace Nelson, Sen. Bill Nelson’s wife. Of course, I kept hoping that his daughter Nan would come out and perform her LEGENDARY campaign song. If you’ve never seen it, you have to. It’s amazing.
Sadly I could only find a 1 minute clip. I feel as robbed as you do. I won’t stop searching until I find the full video for you guys.
During the speeches, we were also able to snag a sign. I’m not ashamed to admit that I used my child to get it since they were trying to save most of them for the crowd up front (in camera view).
Eventually, it was time for the main event. And as Clinton took the stage, the cameras and phones went up.
Val Demings, Orlando’s former (and first female!) police chief and a current candidate for Congress, introduced the president. She’s a fantastic, exciting speaker with an amazing personal story (youngest of 7 children whose mother was a maid and father was a janitor. She’s also been married for 24 years to Jerry Demings, the current sheriff of Orange County).
Then, it was Bill’s turn.
OK, so my pictures aren’t so great. But Jessica said I could use one of her pictures from the good seats.
Clinton was definitely more somber tonight, understandably. I was a little surprised he didn’t say anything about the death of Ambassador Stevens (although Grace Nelson did and led a moment of silence) but he still drew very clear distinctions between the two candidates on key domestic issues, including jobs, healthcare and the deficit. I’m telling you, he even makes wonky speeches on debt reduction interesting with his blending of facts, figures and folksiness (including one of my favorite sayings, “When you’re in a hole, you stop digging.” That was a favorite saying of my old boss).
The crowd was fired up, though.
I’m really glad we brought E. She may not remember and I know she doesn’t understand what’s going on, but it did lead to some good conversations. She knows that we saw President Clinton (“He was the one before President Obama, Mommy.” I suppose eventually I’ll teach her about those eight years in between the two presidents). And she knows when she grows up, she wants to be President of the United States, too. Of course, last weekend, she declared she wanted to be a Disney on Ice skater but that’s what childhood is all about — imagining all the possibilities.
She asked her favorite question “Are girls presidents?” and although I begrudgingly had to tell her no, not yet, I did tell her all about Hillary and how she was ALMOST president and today has a very important job where she travels all around the world representing the United States to other countries. “When I’m president, I’ll give someone that job, too, but not you or Daddy. I want you two to come to my speeches.” Yup, she’s a natural born politician.
I did tell her that she’s actually been at a Hillary rally before. In 2008, we went to Hillary and Obama’s first event together after their bruising primary. It was just us, them … and about 10,000 other people.
I want E. to grow up knowing how important it is to care about our country and to make her voice heard when it comes to picking our leaders. This stuff matters, folks.
And yes, some day she’ll also learn about Democrats and Republicans. Hopefully by then, they’ll all have learned how to play together better. Clinton is right — there is too much hate right now. Politics has never been a gentle business (hell, one of my favorite stories in history is the senator who was nearly beaten to death on the U.S. Senate floor) but at least the parties used to be able to work together more frequently.
Aren’t we all, ultimately, on the same side?
Have you ever attended a political rally? Who would you most like to see give a speech, whether they’re a politician or not? And finally, please tell me you’ve registered to vote! It’s not too late to register for the November election!