The virtual Democratic National Convention is...a little weird, to say the least. But it has had some good moments. Take, for instance, Tuesday night’s roll call, which I found surprisingly delightful.
Usually, the DNC roll call is standard: everybody’s in the same convention hall, the DNC Secretary calls each state by name, and the chair of the delegation reports the delegate votes awarded to each nominee. The chair will give a little speech, there’s a lot of cheering, and the energy in the convention hall is probably buoyant–though if you’re sitting at home watching it on TV it can get kind of boring.
Of course, this year there is no convention hall, or cheering, or natural crowd-induced buoyancy. So instead, the DNC filmed the delegates giving the roll call in all 57 states and territories. Teachers, elected officials, essential workers, and others got to show off their home bases and tell viewers a little bit about what’s going on:
It’s corny and I feel like it shouldn’t work, but it does. For one thing, it was nice to virtually travel in a moment when so much of the country (and definitely the world) seems closed off. For another, it gives you an idea of the huge scope of the United States and its geographic and demographic diversity. Montana!!! So vast!!! Not a Kardashian in sight!
And there were some heartstring-tug moments—the parents of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in 1998 for being gay, reported the votes for Wyoming, and Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter in the 2017 Parkland shooting, reported the votes for Florida. Geraldine Waller, a meatpacking plant employee, reported the votes for Nebraska and detailed horrific conditions essential workers have faced in the covid-19 crisis.
Cozzie Watkins, a Democratic activist in North Carolina, called on Black people and Black women to organize and vote. Texas Representative Veronica Escobar talked about the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso that cost 23 people their lives.
Then there was Rhode Island, which showed up with a plate of calamari:
America never ceases to be full of some kind of wonder.