What It Was Like To Witness History In Philadelphia

A guest post from Zach Wahls on his experience as a delegate at the convention

Last week, Iowa’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention witnessed, and helped make, history. Alongside dozens of other Iowans from every walk of life, I watched Hillary Clinton become the first female Presidential nominee of any major party. The speeches we heard—from the First Lady, to Vice President Biden, to President Obama, to Reverend Barber, to Khizr Khan, to Secretary Clinton—wove a tapestry of oratory that inspired rather than frightened, that lifted up rather than divided, and that made you feel proud to be an American instead of feeling like our country had lost its way.

The tapestry was that of an optimistic patriotism that over and over and over again reminded all of us that “we” is the watchword of our democracy and that united, there is nothing we cannot do. The convention told a story of America that effectively underscored the convention’s core theme: stronger together.

I suspect that this would have been the theme of the convention even if the Democratic Party hadn’t just wrapped up a bruising primary, but it was all the more appropriate given the circumstances. The unity efforts were sincere and extended—all week, and especially on the opening night, we heard from high-profile supporters of Senator Sanders, and the man himself. We watched him move to suspend the rules to nominate Secretary Clinton by acclamation. For someone who was not a Democrat eighteen months ago, he seemed right at home attending the Democratic National Convention.

All in all, the convention was an incredibly moving event. That we could hear rousing chants of “Si se peude!” and “Black lives matter!” and “U-S-A!” all from the same body is itself remarkable. Compare that display from what we heard from the Republicans in Cleveland. A billionaire born on third base thinking he hit a triple took to the stage to tell us how awful America is. In Philadelphia, mothers who had endured the most painful human experience—the loss of their children—reminded us that there is nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed by what is right with America.

The contrast speaks for itself.

I think this is a winning formula for the Democratic Party. I don’t know if it will lead us into a landslide victory or if we’ll come up short, but the Democrats spent their convention making the case that both America and —and I think they made a compelling case. We’re starting to see that it looks like the Clinton campaign is enjoying a nice convention bounce. And a week after Khizr Khan’s electrifying speech, the ensuing fallout of that story is still being discussed across the country. I think it is safe to say that this proved to be one of the most effective Democratic conventions in modern history, and potentially the most effective.

It should also be noted that the convention was an incredible bookend to an historic primary. In this primary, for the first time ever, the first woman to become the nominee for President by a major party was also the first candidate to have a campaign managed by an openly gay man, and found she found herself in a mano-a-mano campaign with the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary state in American history (and who then went on to win many, many more primary states) and therefore have a real chance of winning a major party’s nomination—and all of this just to have a shot at succeeding America’s first black President.

It was a frenetic, always-moving, incredibly-exhausting four days. It’s pretty remarkable to look back on everything that had to happen to get to last Thursday. And I’m deeply honored to have played a role, however small, in making history, and I am deeply grateful to the Democrats of the second district for choosing to send me as their representative.

Thank you—and let’s go win this thing.


by Zach Wahls
Posted 8/5/16

2 Comments on "What It Was Like To Witness History In Philadelphia"

  • I saw you on TV during the DNC. I told my husband, “There’s Zach” it was so cool to see you there (and to know I was right). I still use your speech the legislature for my class. Hi to Terry. Sat with her at lunch in San Diego where she was speaking and I follow her MS diet protocol.

  • I spotted you in the crowd at the DNC!
    Appreciated your take on the experience and look forward to your further involvement—you’re an asset for sure!

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