From the Floor: Reflections on Clinton, Party Unity
Chrisi West is a Virginia delegate to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging for Virginia Politics from Denver. She is from Alexandria, in Fairfax County.
The last two days of the convention have been phenomenal and jam-packed with fantastic speakers.
Tuesday's lineup of speeches was great, and was all kicked off by Sen. Jim Webb first addressing the Virginia delegation over breakfast. He spoke of ways to get Virginia onto the Democratic political scene with plans on energy independence and protecting our troops deployed overseas, and as our newest Senator in a class of outstanding freshmen Senators, he failed to disappoint.
Gov. Warner gave the keynote speech Tuesday night, addressing the country, the assembled delegation, and of course the raucous crowd of Virginia Democrats also present in our "Mark Warner" tee shirts. I don't think we could've been more proud of our former Governor than we were as he took the stage on Tuesday night - just before Senator Clinton spoke, and from the same position that Senator Obama gave his amazing speech 4 years ago!
In the midst of the rampant press coverage of disharmony within the party, Sen. Clinton's speech on Tuesday night really drove home the fact that the Democratic party was not only unified behind one candidate, Barack Obama, but also ready to go forward and fight for the future of this country. A reminiscent video on the long fought primary contest and career of Senator Clinton as the first viable female candidate for president brought tears to the eyes of Obama and Clinton supporters alike in the convention hall. Signs reading "Unity" and "Hillary" and "Obama" flooded the Pepsi Center as she concluded her speech and gave her support to Barack Obama.
After a day like that, I didn't think it could get any better, but it did. Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick addressed the delegation Wednesday morning and reminded us all it is not just the candidate and his or her issues that inspire us to act, but also their vision for the country. He acknowledged the inspired grassroots activists who answered the call for change, and reminded us all that it takes everyone coming together to really make real change. Coming from a friend of Sen. Obama, that meant a lot.
Any remaining doubts about party unity were quelled Wednesday evening when former President Bill Clinton took the stage to a mass of cheering and waving American flags. His call to the party, and to the country, to unite behind Barack Obama was genuine and heartfelt. He acknowledged his disappointment that "his candidate" was not chosen, but never did he invite disharmony between the two camps, or refresh old rivalries. He reminded us all of a better time in our country, and called for us to work for a better future, together.
The Virginia delegates took a roll call vote for the presidential nomination yesterday morning. THIS was why I was really at the convention - to vote for the president of the United States of America. We had voted at our morning delegation meeting, almost casually it seemed to me. Surely nothing denoting the historic proportions of what we were actually doing.
On the floor of the Pepsi Center Wednesday evening, the official roll call vote began - states calling out their vote totals for senators Clinton and Obama in alphabetical order.
I wasn't sure what to expect. A couple of states passed, including California and Illinois, and several states unanimously chose to throw all of their delegate strength behind the presumptive nominee entirely. I had heard rumors of a vote of acclimation, but being a newbie to this process I had no idea what that meant. I sure found out though, as New Mexico yielded their votes to Illinois. "They're going to let Illinois put him over the top in the delegate count!" we all whispered to each other in the crowd.
But it wasn't to be. Illinois then yielded their votes to the state of New York. And in a proud moment of party unity, Sen. Hillary Clinton came out into the New York delegation and called to suspend proceedings and call for a vote of acclimation. We all looked at each other in astonishment as the delegation cheered in unison "Ay", when asked to suspend the proceedings. Everyone shouted "Ay" again when asked to vote for Sen. Obama as the nominee of the Democratic party.
It was the moment so many of us had been working toward for a year and a half. The full force of it had finally hit me, and I knew then that everything was coming together. With the delegation finally behind one candidate, we had our presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama. It was the next step toward the White House.
Many of us cast our votes for Sen. Obama back in the February 12th primaries in Virginia on a cold, sleet-filled day. I was just lucky enough to be one of a few who was able to vote for him again yesterday and finally make him the Democratic nominee.
-- Chrisi West
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