By Diane Denish
Thursday’s events brought a close to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. More than 1,000 New Mexicans came to Denver for the final day of the convention. Gov. Bill Richardson added to the list of impressive and dynamic speakers focused on rallying Democrats around a common political platform. He spoke about the American experience and received rounds of applause when he said that McCain may spend hundreds of dollars for his shoes but we will all pay for his flip flops. Gov. Richardson’s charismatic delivery brought forth the first instance in which the audience stomped its feet, and a thunderous sound filled the stadium. I was truly proud to see him represent leadership in the Democratic Party and New Mexico.
All week the line-up of speakers got more and more impressive, from Michelle Obama to Sen. Hillary Clinton to President Clinton to Joe Biden to Gov. Bill Richardson and, finally, to the voices of real Americans. Their combined voices told the story of the middle-class American struggle of short funds, lack of health-care services and disappointment in our world standing as a nation. From the decorated generals that stood together to Barney Smith’s story about his fight for health care, we heard the voice of America. The crowd gave up roaring applause when Smith said it was time to but Barney Smith before Smith Barney. The fact that our Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, was preceded by real Americans telling stories about their hopes and challenges really set the stage. And Barack delivered.
He made it very clear that he understands the American people because their story is his story. It is a story of struggle, opportunity and hope. He talked about real and specific plans to rebuild infrastructure, provide affordable health care and ensure that every child has an educational opportunity. His speech brought an end to a substantive and spectacular week of renewal for the Democratic Party. I walked back to the hotel ending the day with 6,283 steps before celebrating with fellow New Mexicans as we watched the pundits analyze the terrific performance of Sen. Barack Obama.
Friday morning, I got up bright and early and joined many other sleepy yet excited convention goers leaving Denver. I want to send a big tribute out to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and the people of Denver for their Herculean effort to make this a successful convention. Events, transportation, accommodations — everything ran smoothly from day to day. When I was making my way to the floor Thursday night, I had the good fortune of walking in with Mayor Hickenlooper. We stood together with our hands over our hearts for the national anthem. I was proud to thank him personally, on behalf of the people of New Mexico, for the hospitality of Denver and its citizens.
I have also been impressed by how many people volunteered to help make the convention a success. Young people in bright orange shirts greeted me as I got off the airplane when I arrived. A young woman in a bright blue volunteer shirt and gold peace-sign earrings stood on the street corner and did her best to get us all on a bus to take us to the INVESCO Center. Throughout this week, we have heard people talk about the promise of America is its people. Those hundreds of convention volunteers are a reflection of that promise — of our willingness to help one another, to give back to our community. Stay tuned on Tuesday for some after-thoughts on the convention. Hasta Mañana.
Denish is New Mexico’s lieutenant governor. She has been blogging from the convention that ended Thursday.