Senior Attends Democratic National Convention
After working all summer
on Sen. Barack Obama's campaign in Denver, Sara Aboulafia
’09 was awarded with tickets to attend his speech upon
accepting the nomination for the Democratic presidential
candidacy on Thursday, Aug. 28, at Mile High Stadium. Following
the historic speech, she wrote about her experience for The
The Gate next week for a dispatch from Sarah Perkins
’11 about this week's Republican National Convention.]
I am not a sports fan.
Sure, I catch basketball on TV once in a while, and I enjoy
tennis sometimes (especially if Rafael Nadal is playing).
But a football field is one place you wouldn’t typically
But last Thursday night (August 28) I, along with 84,000
other people, took part in a cherished staple of football
fanfare at Invesco Field at Denver’s Mile High Stadium:
the wave. I even raised a home-team sign, cheering on our
number one player: Senator Barack Obama.
I had volunteered for hours to nab those tickets, then stood
outside the stadium with my mother for three and half hours
in a mass of anxious Democrats waiting to get in and watch
Obama speak. I worked this summer with other 20-somethings
in Obama’s Denver Campaign For Change office, doing
voter registration and phone banking.
When my mother and I arrived
at Invesco field last Thursday, thousands were waiting
to get into the stadium in winding, horizon-less lines.
It was a horrifying and beautiful sight—it
was amazing that so many of us felt a part of political history,
but people were cramped and anxious to get in. The wait to
get into the speech seemed about as long as it takes to get
a bill passed into law—so long, in fact, that my mom
and I missed the opening ceremony, the recital of MLK’s I
Have A Dream speech, the pomp and glory, the musical
performances by Stevie Wonder and Sheryl Crow.
After going through security, my mom and I raced through
the halls of the stadium as Al Gore’s voice thundered
around us. We met up with my friends and made it just in
time for the end of Gore’s speech. Inside each of the
cup-holders in front of us were American flags, which people
were waving with enthusiasm. Behind me, a couple that seemed
to be tailgating shouted, “USA! USA!” My introverted
writer-friends were wide-eyed at the blaring “America!” signs
around the stadium, and the sea of people with “Obama
for Change” signs that filled every nook and cranny.
I was concerned that all of this would add up to just another
sports event, with Obama, or America, substituting for the
Broncos. But then it occurred to me: it’s not so bad
to root for the home team when you believe in what it’s
about. And I was not ashamed to be one of the thousands to
stand up when Obama—trim, composed, and genial as always—walked
to the podium, applauding us just as much as we applauded
When he spoke about the responsibility of government and
our responsibility toward each other (“I am my brother’s
keeper, I am my sister’s keeper”) I cheered.
When he took a stab at tax-cuts—those supported by
McCain and Bush—for corporations and the wealthy and
neglectful of workers, I stood up with my mother. And when
he laid out his plan to get us off our dependence on foreign
oil, noting that domestic drilling is only a short-term solution,
we all stood up. When Obama demanded that we take “Patriotism” back
from the right (“I’ve got news for you, John
McCain: We all put our country first,” he said) I was
overjoyed, despite my own reticence to wave a flag.
Although I have disagreements with Obama, I was overjoyed
because he, unlike the fear-mongers, refuses to use ideology
to steal our votes. He has an amazing flair for taking language
back, for redefining what strength means (not simply wealth),
what progress means, what patriotism is. He is one candidate
that does give a damn about what people have to say. “If
John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament
and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that’s
a debate I’m willing to have,” Obama said, and
people cheered—yes, they cheered for pragmatism! For
talking first to our enemies! For taking the high road! For
negotiating and diplomacy!
Maybe my optimism is a little too sunny. But after eight
years of gloom-and-doom and fire-and-brimstone, I’ve
never felt so refreshed. This will be my first time voting
for a president, and yet somehow I feel like I’ve jumped
back into the game.