Upenn students report from the DNC

August 27, 2008 9:59:28 PM PDT
Editor's note: The following is a contribution from a University of Pennsylvania student, attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. As you might be able to discern from the late posting of this installment of my blog, I went to the Pepsi Center to witness firsthand the epicenter of the convention. After a day filled with begging and pleading with anyone who looked official enough to give us spare credentials, a group of students from my class made our way to the Pepsi Center. Perhaps we should have suspected the utter disorganization and herding that lay ahead of us from the roundabout way security had those credentialed guests enter the vicinity (once the center was in sight as being a block away it took us a solid 15 minutes to get to the security line!) I do have to give the security teams credit for making a very long and very wide line move rather rapidly (although in their haste I was able to bring my umbrella inside despite its being listed as one of the prohibited items!)

Once inside, and after several more credential checks, we were reminded of our professors' advice: be entrepreneurial. We interpreted this as trying our best to talk our way into seats that we were not credentialed for. Oh how we tried. After walking right into the Club Level of the center we walked around from suite to suite and quickly realized we were in the place to see and be seen. After sightings of Senator Clinton and Chelsea Clinton as well as Dennis Kucinich (and probably many others we simply did not recognize!) we decided it was time to try to find a seat. Unfortunately, while we had been naively walking around, the sections in the Club Level were entirely full. Despite our best efforts to talk our way into suites patrolled by friendly looking ushers, we were unsuccessful. Up we went. We went to the top level of the center hoping there would be seats available. By 5:00 Denver time, there was not a seat to be had in the nosebleed section (except for those behind the stage with absolutely no visibility.) Our "suite" talking finally paid off when we were able to enter a suite on the first floor. The visibility was limited and there were no seats available, but being out of the crowd was solace in itself.

Being so close to the action and seeing the delegates in all of their crazy clothing and their palpable passion was a phenomenal experience. The politicians must have felt like rockstars-playing to their biggest fans! With each major speaker, new signs were quickly distributed so that they would be in the camera shot. I could not help but wonder what poor interns had to staple the thousands of signs that were distributed. The atmosphere was electric and something the television cannot truly due justice.

While in the suite I was reminded of what a media event the convention truly is. Every major organization (and many minor ones as well) has their own boxes so that they can broadcast with the background of the convention floor. CNN-as they have not been shy about advertising-has a booth set-up in the middle of the floor. The press area is enormous. While watching President Clinton, a correspondent from The Daily Show was setting up to shoot a field piece (before the fire marshals quashed it!) Here I am, authoring a blog to give my angle on the proceedings. During our class discussion today our professor posed the question of the future of conventions. Jose Vargas, a reporter for The Washington Post on the technological aspect of the campaign (who has very interesting insights and I highly recommend checking out a few of his articles) did not have an answer.

Although I cannot answer where the future of conventions is headed, I am headed to bed! Once the excitement of the day is over, I quickly realize how utterly exhausted I am. In three days, I am more exhausted than I have been in months (probably since finals!) In addition, we have an extra early morning tomorrow because a high profile speaker (confirmed from a very reputable source to be Joe Biden) will be addressing the Pennsylvania Delegation Breakfast tomorrow (as if we did not already know how important Pennsylvania is in the 2008 election!)

Read Jen Leventhal's entry from Tuesday

Read Jen Leventhal's entry from Monday


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