Honestly, I don't know which I hate more—the crush of protesters on cops on protesters out on the streets or the crush of Democrat on press on Honored Guests, waiting on line to get through security in order to enter just the perimeter of the Pepsi Center.
Then there's the hustle and jockey through the arena itself, up escalators, down hallways, through doors, waiting in an airless, silent lobby for an elevator and finally, finally, to a chair. A folding chair, sure. A rickety folding chair with a piece of paper on the back of it that reads "FOX Radio."
With an incredible view of the stage (see photos at right).
Unfortunately, I missed seeing my own Chicago's Mayor Daley speak before the convention by just a few minutes, but I think there will be enough going on here to hold my attention for the next several hours.
I am absolutely certain that there is more than one person out there in this country who would give anything to be in my spot. I'm quite sure there's plenty who want to be here more than I do. And most assuredly, there are plenty of folks who are more than capable of listening to these speeches and remarks and dissecting them and analyzing them, and even understanding them, better than I will.
But through sheer luck, here I am, and I can present it to my reader only as I see it, and as I interpret it.
Melissa Etheridge comes on stage, and begins to sing "The times, they are a changin'."
And, God help me, I'm choking up. She then slides into "Give Peace a Chance," then "Born in the USA."
And all I can think about, really, is the hundreds of people outside—young and old, Christian and atheist, pro-choice and pro-life, anti-war soldiers, people angry about torture, lack of health care, the disparities in the economy, retarded marijuana laws, the lack of care and protection of our environment, poverty, social security, political prisoners, the fact that Hillary is not the nominee, homosexuality and sin, all these things and all those I've forgotten, and all those hundreds of people outside who are talking about these things, shouting about them, crying about them, carrying signs, marching, or sharing information in a quiet and respectful way…there is absolutely no connection between those people out there and all these people inside. All these people speechifyin' about the Democratic nominee, voting for that nominee and the nominee for Vice President, singing along with a grammy-winning musician who has pulled out those of rock and roll's most-loved anthems that coincide best with the message of the campaign and it all makes me extremely uncomfortable. Like I don't belong here. Like I need to go back outside among the angry people.
Phew. Take a breath.
Think about this: think about entering the first fence into the perimeter of the Pepsi Center and encountering what appeared to be fifty to a hundred police officers in full riot gear, behind them a black SWAT truck with a platform rising from its roof, on which stood eight or ten more riot-geared police.
And twenty feet away, an elevator platform, extended to the sky, holding three or four more. Waiting, waiting. Waiting for what?
We stopped a Secret Service-vested woman. "Are you expecting trouble?" Chris asked her.
She nodded, "Yes, we are."
There, I was caught for a moment--remain here, inside the perimeter, and wait for that trouble, and document it? Or go inside for my chance to witness the process?
I went inside, though my mind was full of thoughts of what might happen as I sat in relative comfort to watch the show.
Bill Clinton was amazing. Truly. I've always been captivated by the man's charm. He is an excellent public speaker. If Hillary hadn't already knocked it out of the park last night, Bill would have batted clean up. If there were any Democrats still holding out for Hillary, and they weren't convinced by Bill Clinton tonight, then they're probably communists anyway. Heh. Kidding.
And then, after being nominated and accepting the nomination through Nancy Pelosi's announcement, and after being introduced in a touching speech delivered by his son Beau Biden, Joe Biden took the stage.
I don't need to outline for you what Biden said, what he promised, you saw the speech. There was a lot of repetition of the phrase "John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right," and the crowd joined that chant.
It was a little feverish in there. There was a lot of emotion, a palpable sense of belief and faith in the candidates and the process and the message.
That palpable sense reminded me of something; it reminded me of the dedication and fervor with which the protesters, outside the fence, guarded by police, kept away from those inside who could listen to their concerns and consider them and allow them to shape their decisions.
We're all the same, aren't we? We all have a set of strongly-held beliefs. We all want someone to listen to us, and our efforts to speak and be heard are affected by circumstance and our own personalities.
I am growing to despise the division between the citizens and the policy-makers. The more I witness it, the more often I am given the opportunity to cross it from one side to the other and back again, the more I wish to close it.
Then again, I'm just one woman, one small voice in a sea of voices.