Thursday, June 14, 2007

DemFest Part 1

The Magic of Unlikely Friendships
Demfest 2007
by Holly J

What could possibly bring together a Floridian activist, an East Coast state representative a Midwest doctor’s wife and a New York subway singer? Answer; love of country and the inspiration of one man who taught them they could each make a difference.

I (the Midwest doctor’s wife) have never been to New Hampshire before so it was fun to go to another part of the country for Demfest 2007. People came in from all parts of the country in many ways but the airport was very assessable (and nice compared to dumpy O’Hare) so I chose to fly. The facilities were perfect, a modernized rambling hotel with attached conference rooms. The description of a conference center with a mill and ducks was accurate after you drove through “any where USA” shopping malls to get there. I wish I could say I had a taste of New Hampshire but the driving rain and cool weather kept me confined to the facilities.

Marcia (the state representative) and Lois picked me up at the airport. We joined the other crushies in 3 adjoining rooms with 2 queen-sized beds and a bathroom each. This was definitely a step up from the dorm room and shared shower last year. I have no idear if they had heard about us crushies but we were literally the farthest possible and up 3 floors from the conference rooms.

There was no problem finding the other BFAers, just follow your nose to the nearest bar. Well I prefer to call it a lounge. The female bartender was our designated caretaker and stuck with us the entire 3 days, moving from the lounge bar to the conference whenever there was a pay bar to be had. I think I even saw her setting up the buffet. There was a registration table with nametags. They were required for admission and for food. I always appreciate nametags so I am sure to put the right face on the name I already knew.

One by one we straggled in and greeted each other. Thankul showed us her new leopard high heels she was breaking in to wear to a gay pride parade in remembrance of her brother. Sal flitted around the table and Marcia mothered me by seeing that I got food despite the closed kitchen. This is where my story deviates from most of the rest of the BFA crew.

Having worked that day, I encouraged the other crushies to return to the room for crushie time. Marcia pulled out her marvelous picture albums for Lois, Paula and me to oogle over. “Front row” Marcia had up close pictures of all the presidential candidates that have come to New Hampshire. We quickly passed over Hilary’s pictures to spend the time on Howard’s J

After the delicious breakfast buffet, Jim Dean opened the Saturday session. Jim was spiffy in his suit. The rest of us looked more the part of activist wearing t-shirts displaying our favorite slogan. By the end of the day, I looked like a car bumper with stickers and pins professing my stance on the issues.

The big event of the day was John Edwards and they opened up the back to enlarge the conference hall to accommodate around 800 people (my guess). Crushie reports require dress description so here goes. John wore slim style jeans and a dress shirt with open collar and rolled up sleeves. I noted that his hair wasn’t quite as fluffy which is more appealing to me. He has a much smaller frame than I expected. His light southern drawl matched his blue jeans. We had planted ourselves in the front table and off to the left which was perfect because the podium was off center to the right. This forced anyone talking to stay on our side.

John didn’t like the podium, holding the free mike in his hand. He did say all the right stuff for progressives; out of the war as soon as possible, universal health care, and caring for our environment. He did relay how important the grassroots are to get our country on track. Since this time around he isn’t part of the beltway DCers, he knows he has to reach out to us. I do appreciate him coming to talk to us and he even opened up for questions. He was handed a softball question from Marcia but he was scooted off the stage after Sal nailed Edwards with asking if he had a deal with Kucinich at the Iowa Caucus.

Deciding which event to attend is always difficult. We chose the impeachment panel because Marcia was involved with this at her state legislature. Newly elected NH US Rep. Carol Shea-Porter told her inspiring story of her totally grass-root, low cost campaign. She is a natural speaker and a true progressive. Her fellow congressman told us the most disturbing fact of the weekend. The shape of our country is even worse than he has guessed. There was Bush administration damage to our country under “every rock that gets turned over,”

Paula, Lois and I attend Arshad’s DFA Precinct training. His courses are packed with information and his humorous “side comments” is his trademark. Bev Harris’s session drew a big crowd and her findings of “Black Box” election fraud was hidden under the “bolder” she had turned over. By this time a nap called me because my room was in sight near this classroom.

We have already discussed Sen. Mike Gravel on the blog. Sorry no detailed description of him here. He is unappealing to me. I couldn’t really hear much else of what he said after he went off on not taxing corporations. I will leave that up to his supporters.

One of my highlights for the whole weekend was Granny D. Being crushie trained, I was on the lookout for her before her event and there she was, standing in the hallway. And, you could not miss her with her trademark hat. She is even smaller than I have imagined, and at 5’ 3’’ I had to actually look down quite a bit to talk to her. She was gracious and grinned widely for her picture with me. Her speech deviated from her campaign finance reform issue to talk about the hot topic of the day, immigration reform. If anyone can find a link for transcript let me know. She is in the later half of her 90’s and is bright and feisty as ever but being in the medical world, I wanted her to sit down and take a breathing treatment.

I do have to talk about Obama’s representative. (You know I like Obama). It aggravates me to have candidates send in reps but this William McNearry guy was great. Many people had left and were talking but within a few minutes he had us. McNeary is a Black-Baptist minister and we responded like his congregation. He read from his notes tossing the pages on the floor behind him. We rose to our feet to applaud in agreement. He followed up by sitting in the lounge with the Obama skeptics, unruffled by questions thrown to him. We all agreed, we would all vote for him.

I will leave it to others the fill in the “after hours” details. (and will combine the “Subway experience" in part II.)

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