So tonight we close down the Democratic National Convention with the Commander in Chief and the Vice President firmly in charge of the reins of the party and showing the American people what they stand for.  Tonight was a night for closers.  I saw television coverage earlier today talking about this being the sixth inning (another sports reference, might I add) and the need for some strong plays.  I am no baseball coach but I think I can say without equivocation, the right plays were made tonight.

Most importantly, aside from all the policy discussion we’ve heard over the last two weeks, I think the vote in November is about two things.  Two different paths for our country and two fundamentally different ideals – we can either be angry and cynical about our future or we can be hopeful and optimistic.  You see, it’s really just that simple.
Being here in Charlotte has been an important reminder of why it matters.  Sure, it’s also been hot, humid, rainy, logistically challenging, frustrating and difficult for this big city girl outside of the arena.  But, inside the arena it’s been inspirational and aspirational and has reminded me why I got into this politics game in the first place.  You see, despite all the spin doctoring and messaging and talking points that get put out there, what really matters at the end of the day is character.  And, no matter how much people want to fake it or create it or package their person for the audience, you just can’t fake authenticity.  So, say what you will about our President and the Vice President, what we saw in Charlotte tonight and for the past few days were real people, trying really hard, to fix what has been, in military parlance, FUBAR (you can perform an internet search if this term is new to you).  And, maybe it hasn’t been perfect but I believe these problems have been addressed with a spirit of hopefulness and with helpfulness that I guess, I just don’t see from the folks on the other side of the aisle.  And sometimes, help and hope are really all you can ask for.

I’m leaving Charlotte tomorrow reenergized for November and feeling hopeful about our future.  I’ve learned so much by listening to the folks invited to speak on the stage during the convention and while I may not have agreed with all the choices, it felt authentic to me.  I’ve been asked by reporters this week whether or not conventions really matter.  The answer is, probably not as much as we wish they did for all the effort that gets put into them BUT, for the American voter who bothers to watch and listen to what is said on both stages, it’s the best way to know what our candidates and their parties stand for.  I mean, if you can’t get your message across on a stage you control in a venue filled with all your supporters for three whole days, I’m not really sure what other opportunities for truth and vision exist.

To close out the personal part of this journey, yes, tonight I was lucky enough again to get passes to a box.  I was worried that I wouldn’t get in after the changes to the venue were made but we lucked out and we got to watch from a great perch in the arena with some tasty snacks and interesting guests.   We also avoided the TORRENTIAL rains that occurred just as many were filing into the arena and made our way through the security gauntlet without much fanfare.  The best story from this night was the “accidental” crashing of the Maryland delegation’s after-party.  My husband and I were simply trying for a bite to eat at a pub near our rented condo and ok, I’ll admit it, we didn’t object when Ken, the President of the Maryland Democratic Party thanked us for joining them.  We did enjoy some pulled pork and beans (sorry Ken) but quickly made our way home to crash after a week of exhaustion.

Thank you all for following me on this journey of personal and political growth.  I hope that my experiences can help others be more interested in their government and inspired by the promise that our country holds for all of us.  Whatever your political views, I hope you will remember to vote in November.  In other countries folks die for the right to do so, especially women who in some nations still cannot cast a ballot for their chosen candidate.

It’s all settled for me.  I know I’ll be casting my vote for hope, yes, still for hope, and for Barack Obama.  I’ll also be working hard to be optimistic about the future of our great country and for my home state of California, which could use a healthy dose of leadership in these trying times.  We came together here in Charlotte to celebrate the last four years and to look forward to the next four… and beyond and we leave here with the promise of still brighter days ahead.