Last weekend I had the great pleasure of being a delegate to the state’s Democratic convention. To become a delegate I had to go through a series of really intellectually challenging… that is to say… I had to pass a barrage of… umm… I had to give a rousing and inspiring speech… ? Ahem. The truth is I just pretty much had to show up, I guess.
The process started at the precinct caucus – where I showed up and, I’m not sure how it happened, actually, but the next thing I knew I was being patted on the back and congratulated on being named a delegate to the district convention. I had no idea what that entailed, really – but I asked my friends on Facebook, “How hard could it be, right?”
At the district convention I made a short speech about the last time I voted for a Republican for President: It was 1980 – and I was young and really foolish. I’d voted absentee that year because I was going to be in Europe when the election took place. I was sitting in a pub in The Netherlands when the winner was announced. The Dutch people around me started laughing. “They elected an actor for President!” I heard one of them say. And then I saw Reagan walking arm-in-arm with Jerry Falwell – this was not something I’d ever seen on American television, and it was eye-opening to me. It was all very embarrassing. I never voted for a Republican for President after that.
I’m pretty sure my fellow Democrats liked my little speech – I mean, what’s not to like, right? – but that was all moot, really – a certain number of slots had to be reserved for women, and I am a woman, and the next thing I knew I was headed to the State convention as a delegate.
The highlight, for me, of the entire weekend was listening to Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, speak, and having my picture taken with him. I’d never actually heard of Cory Booker before. He started off his speech by making some joke about having really big feet which tend to end up in his really big mouth (which I can relate to, for sure – although my feet aren’t big, they do tend to end up in my mouth a lot) – so I gathered he’d made some verbal gaffe a few weeks ago. Join the club.
Cory (yeah, Cory and I are on a first name basis now) talked about how he’d gotten into politics, his life living in the projects, and the time when he’d fasted to bring people together to work to help his community. Mr. Booker said, “We’re Democrats because we’re not done, yet. We’re not conservatives because there’s nothing to conserve, yet…We’re not the party of me, we’re the party of we. We’re not the party of exclusion, we’re the party of inclusion… This nation is not about what “is” but what can be, and should be.”
He was cool.
I managed to serpentine my way up through the other delegates to have my photo taken with him. Mr. Booker looks very polished and poised in the photo. I look like a woman who’s had a little too much coffee. But I do not care. I got my picture taken with Cory Brooker. Personal vanity, be damned!
The next day I hobnobbed with movers and shakers and political celebrities, and listened to a lot of speeches. I also met some really amazing people who were not celebrities or stars – but who, every day, are in life’s trenches, working to improve the lives of the people in their communities. Those are the folks I most enjoyed getting to know.
And at the end of the day, I came home, changed into my jeans, got out the sponge and scrubbing brush, and cleaned the toilet. That sort of thing always helps put things into perspective for me.
Viva la cleaning agents!
Karen “Wingoov” Molenaar Terrell