CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Uptown Charlotte is packed with people of every hue. They are natives of this sprawling city but also delegates and guests to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) from every corner of the land. They proclaim with bullhorn, banner, or big lapel button a most fervent wish: Reelect Barack Obama.
Take a close look at the crowd. What is strikingly different about the DNC compared to the Republican National Convention is the diversity, the vast numbers of people of color in the DNC crowd, the people who self-identify with their jackets, caps, and buttons as members of unions, the vast numbers of youth, women, and others targeted for “war” and “vote suppression” by the Republican right.
Sitting on the bench waiting for a light-rail train to take him back to his hotel was Gus Mansour, a DNC delegate from Lynnwood, Washington. He wore a ten-gallon Stetson to protect himself from the sizzling North Carolina sun. He was holding a poster with a photo of Obama. Written in bold letters, the poster proclaimed, “We love our President.”
“Will he win a second term? Absolutely,” Mansour told the World. “I believe Obama can win in a landslide. But we have a lot of work to do. We have to work harder.”
Owner of a moving company and also a real estate firm in the Seattle area, Mansour said the race in Washington State is complicated because Democrat Jay Inslee is running for Governor against Republican Rob McKenna. “All it takes is one person willing to write out a check for a million dollars for the Republican candidate. That’s what we have to counter.”
Mansour said the 15,000 delegates to the DNC “are reaffirming the direction of our country. We are beginning to wipe out the sins of the past. The election four years ago proved beyond a doubt the quality of the American people, their basic decency.”
Jack Flynn, candidate for the North Carolina Senate participated in the Charlotte Labor Day march. He knows first hand the dirty tactics of the Republican right in attempting to suppress the votes of voters most likely to cast their ballots for Obama—and for Flynn himself. “I’m running against incumbent Bob Rucho,” he told the World. “He’s the one who re-drew the district maps. He took the ALEC voter suppression law and gave it a new name and the legislature passed it. Thank God, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed it and the legislature could not overturn the veto.”
Yet Republicans who control the North Carolina legislature have already eliminated several days of early voting in another attempt to depress the number of African Americans, Latinos, youth and low-income voters.
“My answer is that as a retired military veteran, it is un-American to deny anyone their voting rights. I did not spend 20 years in the military defending democracy so they can take away people’s right to vote.”
As the crowd swirled past her, Ava Brownlee of Durham, N.C. waited for the light to change. She was wearing a tee shirt, “Durham for Obama 2008.”
“I’m here because the Congressional Black Caucus is honoring nine civil rights leaders in North Carolina and I’ve been invited,” she said. “I want to be part of the mix. I want to help spread the word on Obama and help him win a second term.”
An insurance agent, she said she was galvanized into action in the 2008 election but until now has been unable to devote as much time to Obama’s reelection campaign. “I will be active from now until the election,” she said. “I think Obama has the heart of a public servant. He wants to serve the people. He has a great sense of community. He graduated from Harvard Law School. He could have joined one of those corporate law firms. Instead, he chose to be a community organizer.”
But what about the ocean of secret corporate cash flooding into the election in support of the Romney-Ryan campaign? Brownlee shook her head. “At the end of the day, fairness is going to play out. I think the truth will stand on its own. I think President Obama will win his second term.”
Photo: Gus Mansour, a DNC delegate from Lynnwood, Washington. Tim Wheeler/PW