This is it. I'm headed for Charlotte, for my first national convention, and writing this on the plane. I've been involved with the Democratic Party for a long time, as state College Dems president, as a staffer for Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Gov. Jim Doyle, as Milwaukee County Dems chair and as an active campaign consultant.
But I've never been to the big show.
The plane is pretty full, but the seat next to me looked empty as we started to taxi. I say "looked," rather than "was" empty. I, and the people sitting around me, quickly figured out President Obama is actually on our plane! Invisible Obama, that is.
I've been quietly talking with the invisible president, like one aging Hollywood type did on national TV, and he hasn't once told me to do something inappropriate to myself.
Instead, he's stayed focused on the accomplishments of this administration -- smart healthcare reform that cuts the deficit, grows the economy, ends insurance company abuses like lifetime limits and bans on pre-existing conditions, and brings affordable health care to tens of millions of families that need it; more than two years of positive job growth, driven by revived banking and auto industries; an end to the war in Iraq and the death of Public Enemy No. 1; progress towards the promise of full civil rights for women and LGBT people, and so much more.
Like Clint, I might just be talking to an empty seat. But either way, if you have one takeaway from this blog post, let it be the epic, shining moment of the GOP convention when Dirty Harry made dirty jokes about the president.
I'm looking forward to sharing my experience in Charlotte with WisPolitics.com readers.
Two things stand out in terms of preparation for this role:
-- First, party invitations. Many have noted that there are fewer parties than the GOP convention, and even previous Dem conventions. I think this is great, because it's real evidence the restrictions on corporate influence are having an impact. There are many more events open to all delegates, and both Monday and Thursday's big events are open to the public.
Of course, I've still managed to wrangle invitations to a few great events, and I'll tell you about those over the course of the week. The convention starts for me on Sunday with a welcome party for the Wisconsin delegation, and then we'll celebrate Labor Day at CarolinaFest on Monday.
-- The second issue? Batteries. Knowing I'll be out and about from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. pretty much every day means it's a priority this weekend to find a couple of new iPhone cases that have built-in power. I wouldn't want to be standing in the stadium on Thursday, seeing our president re-nominated for a second term, and run out of juice!
Finally, I'm excited about the opportunities for discussion and service at this convention. We're going to help build a home for a veteran in Charlotte. And I'll be attending discussions with people representing the breadth and depth of the Democratic Party -- from progressives to middle-of-the-roaders. The more that America is reminded that we're the party dedicated to the middle class, focused on new ideas and enthused about our nation's great diversity, the more likely it is that not only will President Obama be re-elected, but Congress will go fully Dem as well.
Compared to their GOP counterparts, Wisconsin's Democratic delegates will have fewer state-specific events at their national get-together.
Instead, the convention's social gatherings will be geared more toward parties like the Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Sex, Politics, and Cocktails Party" and a concert featuring the Foo Fighters put on by Rock the Vote.
On Sunday, delegates are slated to attend a welcome reception that also includes the Iowa and Nebraska delegations.
And there's a party planned Tuesday night billed as an event to "Celebrate Wisconsin's Democratic Leaders." It will feature Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The party is being hosted by G. Strategies LLC, the firm run by Barrett consultant and Dem operative Patrick Guarasci.
Guarasci said U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is also expected to speak at the event, which is "really to celebrate the work done this year and work that needs to be done this fall."
Baldwin is also scheduled to address the convention next week, the only Wisconsin speaker currently on the docket. She also has a fundraiser planned during the convention, Dems said.