This blog was submitted by FIU alumna Taylor Prochnow ’10, who was in Philadelphia last week. She is currently the executive coordinator at D.C.-based think tank, Third Way, and the communications chair for She Should Run, a non-partisan group that works to increase representation of women in public office. While at FIU, Taylor served as a senator for the student body and was active in Model United Nations. After graduation, she worked as the FIU in D.C. intern.
As I look out the window on the train back to D.C., I’m overjoyed thinking about the history we made this week at the DNC (Democratic National Convention) with Philadelphia as the backdrop. The city where our forefathers created the world’s first experiment in democracy under the premise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with the hope of inspiring a more perfect union.
I graduated from FIU in 2010 and came up to D.C. to join the Office of Federal Relations in their advocacy of funding for public education. Having studied both political science and international relations, I fancied myself following the more international path. Never did I imagine that six years later I would be working at a centrist Democratic think tank in our nation’s capital. In 2012, I traveled down to Charlotte on my own dime to assist the Young Democrats of America with Hispanic outreach on the final day — though I did get into the arena to hear President Obama fire up the crowd with chants to go out and change the world! Fast forward to 2016, I came to Philadelphia for the whole week to execute nine policy events and liaise with fellow Democrats.
After our opening reception ended on Monday night, we were offered credentials to go down to the arena to see Mrs. Obama speak — and if there was ever a way to start a convention off with a bang, she did it! Leaving the arena, we were then offered tickets to see Nelly — yes, that Nelly — perform on behalf of a musical charity. The middle schooler in me remembered all the words to “Country Grammar” and sang along enthusiastically. I also spied members of Congress in the audience!
Wednesday was the longest day of the week with five policy events to oversee and our biggest party of the week to watch the pre- and post-gavel nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
We were again recharged by the speeches from Vice President Biden and President Obama and jumped at the opportunity to see Fergie — yes, that Fergie — perform. Another fantastic show. It’s worth noting that not only was every artist phenomenally entertaining, each had a very important message about activism in this election and exercising our constitutionally protected right to vote.
On Thursday, I attended a conversation with She Should Run, a non-partisan group determined to increase women’s representation in public office. Three rockstar panels included elected officials, advocacy groups and corporate partners all leading the charge on making Congress more representative of the American public and working in the service of the American people. My favorite panelist was 8th grader Christian Herald who ran — and won! — elected office to represent her class in McLean, Virginia.
Thursday night was the big night that we’d all been waiting for. Leading up to Secretary Clinton’s acceptance of the Democratic nomination, the arena was brought to a frenzied passion by incredibly resonant speeches. The night opened with a color guard procession of Civil War reenactors (representing the United States Colored Troops), and what followed was powerful speech after powerful speech from the Democratic women of the U.S. Senate, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber II, Sarah McBride (the first transgender American to speak at a national convention), retired General John Allen, and Khizr Kahn (the father of a fallen Muslim-American soldier and hero), among many others. Then the historic moment arrived. The moment a woman accepted the nomination for the top of the ticket to the highest office of the most powerful democracy on Earth, stating that “when there is no ceiling, the sky’s the limit.” In a nod to the movement, Secretary Clinton wore white to honor the suffragists that paved the way for this moment. To say that it was impactful would be a severe understatement. The cheering in the arena was deafening. And if you haven’t seen the memes of the Clintons and the Kaines playing with the celebratory balloons, do yourself a favor and go watch!
To celebrate a successful week and to extend the energy we felt from making history, my team and I went to a closing party and were happily surprised by a special appearance from none other than the Clintons and the Kaines! They thanked the crowd for our support, but reminded us that the hard part is not yet over.
All in all, seeing how a national convention works and being a part of the week-long activities was an incredible opportunity. I now know that button swag shows your level of enthusiasm and thus weeds out the wayfarer convention goers from the die-hards. I learned more about the delegate process and would like to attend a future convention in that capacity and encourage all of my fellow Panthers to do the same. While I never did find the Florida-made donkey statue, I was present to history in the making.
The city of brotherly (and sisterly) love is a beautiful city, full of history in its own right and the perfect setting for a new historic moment. Overall, the week was very well structured and highlighted important issues from racial inequality to community relations, national security to LGBTQ rights, moral imperatives to diverse representation, and financial reform to international affairs.
If you work in the political universe or are at all interested in politics, I highly recommend going to either the RNC or DNC in 2020. It’s a great way to see our democracy up close. And hopefully you’ll leave with a greater desire for public service.