By Conor Johnson
This summer, I attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as a participant of The Washington Center’s Democratic National Convention Seminar. I was present as Hillary Clinton was nominated to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in this year’s election. As a Political Science and History double major, I was thrilled to enjoy this rare opportunity to see the process unfold. In an election year as crazy as this one, I knew that this campaign would one day be in textbooks, and that I would be watching history unfold right before my eyes.
I was granted an amazing opportunity by SJC Political Science department chair Dr. Stephen Rockwell and St. Joseph’s College. I chose to attend the Philadelphia convention because of the city’s historical significance and so that I could be present to watch the sitting United States President speak. My first week in Philadelphia was spent attending academic lectures and listening to a wide array of guest speakers teaching about the history of conventions and insight into what to expect at this year’s convention. During my free time before the convention, I explored the city by going to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Philadelphia City Hall. Another stop was the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where I ran up the famed “Rocky Steps” and attempted to give my best imitation of film legend Rocky Balboa. In addition to seeing the sights, I enjoyed the local cuisine and sampled the famed Philadelphia cheesesteak. I can now say with certainty that it lives up to the hype!
The week of the convention was a simply incredible, chaotic and unforgettable experience. The convention itself lasted several days, and I barely had a moment to spare the entire time. The second half of the seminar involved doing very interesting media fieldwork with Tribune Media at the convention. This afforded me outstanding access to the convention floor each day and evening. During my fieldwork, I had the chance to meet numerous people from politics and media including Vice President Joe Biden, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Clarence Page. The convention also heavily featured entertaining moments by stars from Hollywood and the music world. However, in my opinion, the real highlights were, of course, seeing and hearing the politicians.
The chance to witness both former President Bill Clinton and current President Barack Obama speak, each so renowned for their oratory ability, was a rare privilege. Additionally, I saw Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Michelle Obama deliver speeches. But the true man (or woman, as it were) of the hour was Hillary Clinton, whose history-making acceptance of the Democratic Party’s nomination for president closed the convention on a high note.
As a Political Science and History double major and president of the SJC Political Science Club, attending the Democratic National Convention was an incredible yet humbling experience. Going to the convention as a registered independent voter really gave me a fascinating perspective and an unforgettable experience. Even if Hillary Clinton does not win this November, the historical value of the convention is immense. I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have had this summer, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of this year’s election season unfolds.