Saturday, July 23, 2016

Flashback: Blogging the 2008 DNC

Eight years after...

In August 2008, I spent a week as an embedded blogger at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.  We we all so much older then, I'm younger than that now. I am retired, treating life like a kid who's just discovered summer vacation.

I was one of 55 progressive bloggers embedded with state and territorial delegations. We all received press credentials and a seat with our delegation at the Pepsi Center. Expenses were tight, as my wife worked for a non-profit and I worked for the State of Wyoming. Our daughter was still in high school, so we had the usual teen expenses: cellphone, computer, Internet access, food, fashion, car repairs, bail money. etc. I stayed in my Republican uncle's basement and avoided downtown parking by taking the light rail. We bloggers were selected and sponsored by Howard Dean's Democracy for America organization. I was one of Wyoming's few prog-bloggers at the time, so I was chosen to represent The Equality State at the DNC. I could blog from the bloggers' aerie located above the floor. I could circulate anywhere that Bill O'Reilly could, if I really wanted to.

I blogged with a 2006 laptop and a digital camera. I had a flip phone that took so-so photos. I had ethernet access on the floor but the Pepsi Center had no wireless access due to "security concerns." Not sure what that meant. We now live in an era when smartphones are much smarter than their operators and wireless is available at your neighborhood McDonald's (as is "breakfast all day!").

If I didn't blog from the floor of the convention or the pressroom, I had to find a public computer at the local library or a joint that offered free wireless. Starbuck's was not one of those, BTW. It's hard to believe that we survived such trying times.

So I convened and blogged Aug. 24-28. Leading up to the convention, I did my best to profile all of the state's 18 delegates. Some I interviewed and wrote about at the convention. I wandered downtown on Sunday to cover competing demonstrations. Ron Kovic and Cindy Sheehan spoke on the Capitol steps for the antiwar crowd and the pro-war folks stood across the street from Civic Center Park, glowering at the old hippies and young hipsters. Massed squads of police were there to ensure that tensions did not progress past the glowering stage.

I kick myself for missing the big ani-war march later in the week. Rage Against the Machine performed at the Stockyards Arena and then led a march to the Pepsi Center. According to news reports, tensions flared briefly when the police notified Tom Morello and company that they didn't have a parade permit. Police must have sensed something in the air (not pot -- this was pre-legalization). They decided to escort the peaceniks downtown. Peace and love prevailed. No alleged RATM-inspired riot ensued, as happened in Los Angeles eight years earlier. You can see video of the ruckus on YouTube. It may have fed off some of the anarchist-caused violence during the Battle in Seattle the previous winter. Rage on Stage did not lead to tear gas a rubber bullets in Denver. Interesting to note that the new RATM -- Prophets of Rage -- performed in Cleveland at the RNC. And they headline the Rock Against the TPP concert tonight at Denver's Summit Music Hall. While peace reigned in Cleveland, will it be the same in Philly for the DNC? You might find out more by reading your favorite prog-blogger than the MSM.

I will revisit some of my posts from 2008 in the coming week. Look up August 2008 in the Hummingbirdminds archives (scroll down the right sidebar). It's been instructive to see where I was, both in thoughts and deeds, eight years ago. I've always liked this Flannery O'Connor quote: “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.”

No comments: