New Hampshire holds the First-in-the-Nation Primary, and the Convention is where it all officially starts. I arrived to see thousands of people lining the streets holding their favorite candidate signs. There was cheering and chanting so loud you could hardly hear. My stomach was full of butterflies and I could feel the excitement. I finally was there, among people with whom I felt connected.
Everywhere I went, from the streets to inside the arena, the feeling was electric and contagious. Strangers quickly became your best friends. This was my first time attending New Hampshire’s Democratic State Convention where all things seemed possible.
My family usually voted Republican so at election time I felt like an outcast. I never could even talk like a Democrat without causing a hot family debate, so I became a closeted Democrat. I wasn’t changing my convictions just to please my family.
As I went through the crowds of people, there were friendly greetings and even hugging. It didn’t matter what candidate you supported. We were Democrats, the Resistance, family. We were all there for the same reason, to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. These were my people. I finally felt at home.
Upon entering the Convention Center, the Hall was thick with people and the noise was roaring. The hallway had table after table full of candidate swag. I probably stopped at every table just to talk politics. At my third table, Elizabeth Warren’s, it hit me. I was a political junkie and I couldn’t get enough of my fix.
I talked to everyone– Bernie supporters, Biden supporters, Mayor Pete Supporters– in fact, all 19 candidate supporters! I even talked with a possible NH Governor Candidate, Mr. Volinsk, whose biggest concerns were funding for public education, fair elections, and gun safety. I introduced myself to several State Representatives who had passed many bills our Republican Governor John Sununu vetoed.
But the best part was yet to come.
I entered the arena and took my seat. The blaring music was infectious. I was on the second level but I could see young people dancing close to the stage. It was like a rock concert but for political groupies. I thought that this would be for stuffy people wearing suits, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Finally, the first speaker came to the stage – the President of New Hampshire’s Democratic Party. There were many introductions, and everyone settled in their seats to listen intently.
Once formalities were over, the first person up to rally the crowd was the National Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez. The arena boomed with applause and whistles. I could feel it through my whole body. The frequency in the arena had risen up.
Tom Perez spoke for 20 minutes about the Democratic ideology. Every time President Trump’s name was mentioned the people jeered like a giant mass cringe. He talked about the Democratic Platform and how they planned to bring back stability to our country. He explained how the speaking positions of the candidates were drawn at random and each candidate had 10 to 12 minutes to speak, including local candidates. We started with our own Senator Jean Shaheen, Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, who are all up for re-election in 2020. All told us how they improved NH by working on improving care for veterans, pushing to expand Medicaid and more. All three received roaring applause.
Now onto the 19 Presidential Candidates. I wondered if others had goose bumps like I did. I’ve never seen so many important people on stage at one time and one of these people would become the next President of the United States. It was better than any other rally that I’ve attended and definitely much better than watching a debate on television. All 19 Candidates would be able to speak on the same stage and get their message out.
First up was former Vice President Joe Biden. The crowd warmly welcomed him with wild applause. He was succinct and spoke with conviction. No gaffes at all.
From there we heard from Cory Booker, Mayor Pete, Julio Castro, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer, Michael Bennett, Marion Williamson, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren and more. Each received chants, whistles and energetic applause. I noticed that by the end of each individual speech I was leaning so far forward in my seat I was inches from falling off.
But, out of 19 Candidates, there was one who drew me in the most. The one who I hung onto every word and gave me the most butterflies. It became very obvious that I wasn’t the only one. Almost every seat in the arena was occupied. The excitement grew to a crescendo and applause became thunderous as she spoke. Elizabeth Warren won the day with a three minute standing ovation. The energy in the huge arena was intoxicating.
I returned to my quiet home still excited and high from the day. I met strangers who felt like friends. I listened to 19 Candidates who had great conviction and honor. I learned a lot but felt more. Boy, do I love New Hampshire.