The BlogHer team is in in Charlotte, North Carolina all week as the Democratic National Convention opens today. If the Queen City looks familiar, it's because Charlotte served as the location for The Capitol in The Hunger Games movie. Which is kind of fitting, given how vicious the 2012 election season has become.
As nearly 20,000 people gather at the Bank of America Stadium to officially nominate President Barack Obama to another term, the atmosphere is likely to be more subdued in side the conference halls than in 2008, and with more protesters outside.
Sept. 2, 2012 - Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. - A protester carries a flag covered in corporate logos rather than stars as he walks down Graham Street in Charlotte, site of the Democratic National Convention. (Credit Image: © Jeff Siner/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
In a move to promote election transparency, the Democratic National Committee is not taking monetary donations from corporations, lobbyists, or political action committees, which will translate into less elaborate parties. Also, as the incumbent, President Obama does not symbolize change the way he did four years ago. That's not to say that Democratic delegates are not enthusiastic. The difference seem to be that many of the faithful are fired up by the hot-button issues.
Hot Topics at the Democratic National Convention:
Women’s Issues: With Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about “legimate rape” a few weeks ago, women’s healthcare issues are sure to be on the forefront of discussion. Many women’s groups and pro-choice advocates are in Charlotte emphasizing Democratic support of these issues.
Healthcare: The Supreme Court may have defended most of "Obamacare," but that doesn't mean the Affordable Care Act that was a key plank in the 2008 Obama campaign is safe. The Romney-Ryan ticket is promising national healthcare cutbacks that would effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system that would provide much lower coverage than the current system.
Economy: Democrats would be wise to use the Labor Day holiday to address the concerns of middle-class Americans. The unemployment rate remains at over 8%, a fact that the Republicans mentioned at every opportunity at their convention last week. All eyes will be on the Democrats to respond with their plan for an economic turnaround.
Education: Both the K-12 public school reform and the affordability of college education for the middle class have been big topics of discussion already this year. This summer, President Obama has been a big proponent for making college loans more attainable to students who can't borrow money from their parents. We’ll be keeping an eye on these issues as U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan takes the stage this week.
Foreign Policy: The next presidential term will come with some tough international relations issues, both in the business and military arena. The Obama campaign will likely continue to question Mitt Romney's record on outsourcing jobs as CEO of Bain Capital. Eyes will also be on the Democrats to pose a plan to remain strong in light of emerging military threats.
Immigration: With President Obama’s announcement to stop the deportation of some undocumented students, often called "DREAMers," the Democrats are already favorably poised to advocates of immigration reform. The burden is on the Democrats to prove the dangers of a Romney administration, which is recommending "self-deportation."
Don't expect to see the President in Charlotte on Monday. Instead, President Obama is scheduled to tour parts of Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Isaac, and will officially accept the party’s nomination on Thursday night. First Lady Michelle Obama will speak on Tuesday night, and Wednesday’s headliner is former President Bill Clinton. Another speaker to keep an eye out for is Sandra Fluke, who will be introducing President Obama on Thursday.
And while big business may not be donating to this year’s Democratic convention, many Hollywood stars will be "hot-dogging" (Clint Eastwood’s term, not mine) in Charlotte. They're lending their time and influence, including: Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria; Ashley Judd; America Ferrera; and members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team -- including Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber. For a full list of speakers, visit DemConvention.com.
In Charlotte's uptown (their version of downtown), hundreds of Occupy protesters are already gathering. More protesters are likely to turn out, since Hurricane Isaac deterred occupiers from Tampa last week.
In this most digitally connected of election seasons, you can also watch livestreams of the convention at the Democratic National Convention website.
And of course, here at BlogHer we'll be posting interviews, photos and updates from the Democratic National Convention throughout the week. Twitter has a special #DNC2012 page, and also follow @BlogHerNews and @BlogHerFeminism for our live tweets from the floor.
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