For the next few days I will be making periodic dispatches from the floor, the streets, and the bars and restaurants (where most of the action really is) of Denver. I’m an Obama delegate for the State of California, having won a somewhat intense election battle of my own to get here. In my congressional district there were no less than 101 people running for the four delegate (and one alternate) spots. The election took place over the course of a blazing-hot afternoon — some 900 people lining up to cast their votes for the friends and family members who had begged, pleaded, and corralled them into wasting their Sunday. I attribute my resounding victory (no one else even came close) to the fact that my then-6-year-old daughter, a moppet with blond hair, big blue eyes, and a gap-toothed smile, walked up and down the line holding a hand-lettered sign that said “Vote for My Mom” while her older brother distributed chilled cans of soda. All’s fair in love and politics.
Today all anyone wants to hear about is the manufactured dissent between Hillary supporters and Obama supporters. Every reporter breathlessly asks what we’ve heard, how angry the Hillary supporters are. I can hardly claim any unique insight into the mind of the Clinton camp, but let me say that, as a novelist, I know that thousands of people holding hands, waving signs, and cheering a united party does not a story make. Conflict makes a story, so every nutjob with a PUMA sign gets on TV. The truth from the ground is that while I’ve heard that the New York delegation breakfast was a little emotional, the vast majority of Hillary supporters are either onboard for Obama or preparing to be. As a young African-American woman I heard interviewed on the bus today said, “Hillary and Bill were there for us, and I’m here for her. But on Thursday, when Barack Obama is our candidate, I will support him with all my heart.” I’ve seen red buttons that say “Hillary Supports Obama and So Do I” and “Another Hillary Clinton Delegate for Obama,” but I’ve seen no negative swag at all.