The Trip to Charlotte

DC for Democracy's billboard

DC for Democracy and their statehood billboard on Tryon St., Charlotte, N.C.

I’m finally back from DC for Democracy’s trip to the Democratic Party’s 2012 Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and finally recovering, sleep-wise, from a week of 14 hours days filled with passing out literature; talking with delegates and other citizens; getting signatures on a statement of support for D.C. statehood and, for some of us, actually getting to watch some of the convention speeches live in the Arena.

the convention floor -john lewis speaking

The Convention floor, a view from the top

This was followed by long, late evening car-rides on inner and outer I-485 to ferry fellow DC-ers to their local abodes, and then to Mathew, N.C. where two of us were staying.  (The freeway there runs in a circle, so forget north and south.  You have to figure direction clockwise and counter-clockwise.  They call one direction inner and the other outer–I was always forgetting which corresponded to which.  And at two o’clock in the morning, that can be tiresome.  Much less confusing, and quite charmingly contrary, Charlotte calls their downtown “uptown.”)

It was amazing to discover how many people were not aware that we don’t have a voting representative or senators to represent us in Congress, and heartening that their astonishment at the discovery resulted in an immediate willingness to sign a statement of support.  Of course, the real test will be whether they are willing, if contacted, to spread the word in their home states because, to get statehood, we will need the support of those who do have representation, and who can influence their representatives in the House and Senate on our behalf.  We know it’s not a goal to be obtained in a day–or even five.  But it is a beginning.  I’m reminded of a sign on the side of the NASCAR building, located a few steps from the Convention Hall in Charlotte:

NASCAR building sign

“If winning was easy, losers would do it.”

If winning was easy, losers would do it.  The corollary–that nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without struggle–seems applicable not only to DC statehood, but to politics in general.  Given that, the other heartening aspect of this trip was seeing the number of first time delegates to the convention, the excitement and openness (to the degree that security permitted) of the caucuses and the convention itself, and the enthusiasm and spirit of the people attending.   What with the efforts of the Republican leadership to eliminate democracy by preventing citizens from voting, those who truly believe in democracy have their work cut out for them but, judging by the speeches at this convention and the solidarity expressed by the delegates and citizens attending, the battle has been joined.

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