By Gus Jarvis
TELLURIDE – With less than a week to go, the countdown to Barack Obama and the Democratic National Convention in Denver has begun. Rather, it began quite some time ago, even years ago for some, but for me, there are simply days left before the spotlight shines on Denver and covering this massive event has started to weigh on me.
How do Carlos, Anne and I cover the most important and exciting convention we will probably ever experience. How do we cover it in a way our readers will find different than what will already be inundated in their heads by every television news organization? What can I write that isn’t already being said by the heads on CNN, NBC and The Daily Show? Sitting at my desk in Telluride right now, six days away from the start of the convention, I have no clue what it will be like and what we will experience. What I do know is that this certain spectacle will alter our thoughts, mentality and physical well-being and we will be there to report, of course, as professionals.
Carlos and I have been issued hall press credentials while Anne will be our acting base with her parameter pass where the regulars of the U.S. and world press corps will be filing its many, many stories throughout four-day event. I had no certainty of getting the passes when I applied for them several months ago but was somewhat surprised to find that we had been accepted. The Watch will be rubbing elbows with the pros of the national press.
Given the circumstances of the current race for the President of the United States of America, I certainly support Obama. He is the last hope to end a seemingly dark, dark period of American history. That is the fact of the matter. But I haven’t always felt that way.
My political season started off at our local Democratic and Republican caucuses here in San Miguel County last February. I remember it was one of those heavy snow nights in Telluride where it was a pain in the ass to go out because of the slick and treacherous roads. This did not stop the Obama faithful from coming out in droves to the various caucus precincts in town.
I showed up in support of Sen. Hillary Clinton. I should have known my candidate was in trouble that night when an Obama supporter excitedly told me that my precinct caucus had been moved to a larger room because the turnout was so great. Voter turnout great? At a caucus?
“Mmm,” I thought. “The Democrats in this have really had enough of bullshit Republican leadership. Everyone and their grandma are going to turn out and vote this year for a Democrat. There will be nothing to stop us now.” I followed the direction of the gleeful volunteer.
When I finally made it into the precinct above the fire station, the room had already been packed like a can of sardines and divided into good and evil. Of course, I took a seat on the evil side with just three other Clinton supporters – all middle-aged women. There I sat, facing every well-known citizen, environmentalist, butcher, mechanic, teacher, bus driver, government official, and street musician who were looking at me like I had just committed a cardinal sin.
“Join us!” They jeered. “We can’t be stopped! Come on over. Obama is change!”
The two or three who hadn’t yet decided looked at the Clinton side and then looked back to the Obama side and finally went over with the mass encouragement.
Instead of making any last-minute decisions, I made my vote count for the Clinton side and immediately and quietly slipped out the side door into the frigid Telluride night.
“Gimme a Bud,” I said the man behind the bar in a pub that was just a few steps away from the caucus. Ski season was in full swing but there seemed to be nobody drinking on that particular Tuesday evening. As I sat there nursing the beer, I wondered exactly what it was about Obama that made him so popular. How could a junior Senator from Illinois get so many people to take that leap of faith and support his candidacy?
I supported Clinton for her experience and brilliance and still do. Obama’s experience was the big question mark in my mind and yet so many others across the country and the world have answered it themselves.
Now, seven months later, I will be going to the heart of the Democratic Party with that same question – unanswered – in my mind. I know he can talk the talk, but can he walk the talk he has so successfully given us? The world is watching this convention to answer this question as well. We are taking a risk by supporting such a candidate.
Not that the risk for voting for Obama is anything like the risk of voting for John McCain. We know what he will do and how he will rule the roost. He may say different, but we certainly know how he acts. Voting for what McCain says he will do is an even bigger leap of faith, one that I believe is futile.
The DNC will be all about easing not only apprehensions of Obama’s leadership ability but the lingering question of can he win on Nov. 4. Even those who have wholeheartedly given themselves to the election of Obama have some questions looming in their heads.
The best of the best of the Democrat world will be in Denver next week to display their best oratory and persuasive skills. Michelle Obama. Hillary and her sidekick Bill. The vice presidential nominee, who will be announced via text any day now. Bruce Springsteen. And finally, Barack Thursday. They will all be there to show us that a change for the better is in the air and that it will happen. It will be the show, to show America that the Democrats can and will win this November.
What a scene it will be.