2016 DNC Proves Politics Isn’t Just an Old Person Thing

The Sanders campaign has given me hope. Hope that my passion for this year’s Democratic National Convention isn’t just some hormonal middle-aged fixation.

True, I’m 54. Yes, my hormones are raging (at least, some of the time). And I’ve been fixated on the 2016 DNC, alright.

Computer showing Michelle Obama at 2016 DNC with Hillary Clinton button and democratic coffee mug.

Get Off My Lawn Politics

When I watched snippets of the Republican National Convention, I was struck by the seemingly homogenous age range of the delegates. Historically, the average RNC delegate is 54 years old, and to my eyes, this year’s crowd was either older than me or had aged badly. There was an intensely crotchety vibe, a “get off my lawn” fist-shaking us-against-them negative world view. Sorta like Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino”…without the feel-good ending.

My husband and I turned to each other, wondering–was politics an “old person” thing? Did hitting middle age suddenly push the right buttons, as in advancing mortality sparked sharper interest in just who had a finger on the nuclear button?

After all, we were paying more attention than ever.

My own behavior was lending support to this theory. I’ve been glued like a fan girl to the 2016 DNC. I’ve shot off the sofa, cheering and clapping, a la penalty kicks in a World Cup match. Tuesday’s roll call brought goosebumps and a totally off-the-wall moment when I shouted “shut up! shut up!” at the MSNBC talking heads, who were blithely chatting over the Texas’ delegation’s vote.

Screenshot of Texas delegation at 2016 DNC roll call.

How many times have I cried? Michelle Obama was the first to move me that way, but she wasn’t the last. My heart swelled so often over the days as I listened to speakers. But it was looking at the  delegates, their faces reflecting intense feelings, that touched my soul.

Emotions on Display at DNC

While I didn’t feel the Bern, I do  respect the work that so many people put into supporting Senator Sanders. I’m glad that Senator Sanders was inspirational, specifically to the Democratic party and younger voters. We’re all the better for it.

This is where I digress a bit about Susan Sarandon. She’s a fantastic actress, committed activist, and an intelligent woman whom I admire. I felt for her, having cameras trained on her reactions to the roll call votes. The surrounding Twitter crap? [eyeroll]. Of COURSE Senator Sander’s most dedicated supporters were upset their candidate wasn’t the party’s nominee. Can we just move past this?

Those camera crowd shots, however, also showed that DNC delegates look a lot like my neighbors. I’m lucky to live in a small area of Austin with a diverse population: hipsters stroll the streets; grandparents watch little ones while parents work; professionals live next door to artists, students, small business owners and retirees; people at the farmer’s market spend SNAP dollars; faces of all colors are visible.

These same people have, night after night, filled my TV screen.

President Obama addressing the 2016 DNC.
Twelve years ago, I said to my husband, “That man will be president one day.” It’s my big “I told you so” moment.

More than wonderful speeches–even more than President Obama’s mike-drop worthy Wednesday night closer–those varied faces have connected with me. Delegates’ reactions have illustrated how factions can embrace the bigger issues through united passion.

Maybe I’m naive, but I really believe the DNC has been able to tap into a common wellspring of positive feeling. It’s funny how much themes of unabashed patriotism, rampant national pride, and neighborly love mirror past Republican touchstones. I don’t care. These are my beliefs, my world view–what flavors my particular passions.

There’s no age requirement or limit on political passion.

The 2016 DNC wraps up tonight, and once again, I’ll be glued to the coverage. My cat (and perhaps neighbors) will most likely be frightened by the cheering and clapping, and I’m sure to experience more goosebumps and tears. There will definitely be a whole lot of passion, passion that needs a channel.

So I’m going out on a limb to make a prediction:

a spike in U.S. birthrate come April 2017 for the youngsters.

And thank goodness for being an old person.




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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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