In Retrospect, the DNC was D-N-Seriously Disappointing

I can only imagine most large-scale nationally broadcasted events like this are difficult to successfully execute, but the overwhelming lack of knowledge — well, it’s just not what I expected.

The Democratic National Convention last week certainly had its high moments. But ironically, the low moments could be seen from the very top of the public accommodations of the Wells Fargo Center, where the seats were scarce and the backs of the speakers’ heads looked like ants.
As a first-time convention correspondent, expectations were high for a week of political debauchery — full of the crazy antics and people you normally see on TV or scrolling through Twitter — but now in real time.
However, reality set in fairly quickly that those moments are far and few between, and maneuvering the political circus was more onerous and frazzled. (Not to bash the Dems, but a little extra planning could have gone a long way in this type of event.)
I can only imagine most large-scale nationally broadcasted events like this are difficult to successfully execute, but the overwhelming lack of knowledge — where things were occurring, who was going to be there, when they were going to be there — well, it’s just not what I expected.
Expectation: There’s so much to do and see!
Reality: Circling the Wells Fargo concourse over and over again, it’s safe to say I know the arena like the back of my hand by now. (Granted it is literally a circle so you can’t get too lost.) Most of the concourse was littered with radio, TV and newspaper reporter stations. The rest was comprised of wandering delegates and attendees also circling the arena, because when the other options are to sit inside for several hours and wait for the big show or stand outside in the heat and humidity, walking around aimlessly until something happens is the best choice. 
Expectation: Credentials actually mean something and get you into places.
Reality: Let me introduce you to the perimeter pass, a pass that shows you the door — and that’s it. Not to mention you had to get through TSA security first before even approaching the door. Everyone seemed to be very confused by the passes and the different meanings accompanied by their colors. (Probably because a volunteer told me they changed the restrictions of these passes halfway through the convention.)
Expectation: Buses should be an easy and safe way to get all credentialed people to the Wells Fargo Center in a timely fashion.
Reality: On the first afternoon of the DNC, hundreds of credentialed media and delegates gathered outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center, sprawling down Arch Street between 12th and 13th, for a free shuttle to the convention. After three buses came and went — only letting on select individuals first in a single-file fashion after searching their bags — it was time for an alternate route. However, on a second attempt the following day at 4:30 p.m. — apparently beating the credentialed rush hour — the bus was a delightful highway excursion, filled solely with intelligent and welcoming politicos willing to share a civil conversation. I heard teenagers make new friends with other young delegates and an elderly man exchanging life stories with a young immigrant. There were people of all races, ethnicities and sexual orientations having constructive arguments about the imminent election. Quite possibly, the DNC week was the most approachable a SEPTA bus has ever been.
Expectation: The Wells Fargo Center is a great venue for the DNC.
Reality: It may be able to hold about 20,000 people, but we were all packed in like sardines, trying to wiggle around the place to get from point A to point B (or just circle back to point A). On a personal note: To anyone who just stopped and stood in the middle of the roughly 15-foot-wide concourse space of Wells Fargo, I have a personal vendetta against you.
Expectation: There’s so many people here, this will be a great audience.
Reality: There’s so many people here, and there’s nowhere for me to sit. Fighting and arguing for seats and bribing neighbors to not let volunteers give away said seat was a daily occurrence. Fortunately, credentialed media had some room, but the other hundreds of attendees looking for a spot at 8 p.m. weren’t so lucky.
Expectation: Food and snacks should be easy to buy.
Reality: I was expecting the food to be expensive, as it normally is at the Wells Fargo Center or events like this, but the options were definitely not something Let’s Move! exercise advocate Michelle Obama would support. This is not to sound like the string of out-of-town reporters, media and delegates who complained on Twitter. However, there really was room for improvement, considering some people spent most of their afternoons and evenings at the arena with nothing but hot dogs, pizza and other greasy foods available. And once the clock struck 6 each night, the lines morphed into giant greasy, sweaty throngs of hungry, angry (hangry?) Democrats. Extra food trucks would have been a delicious and satisfying blessing in a situation like this. 
Expectation: There will be a lot of angry anti-Trump protesters.
Reality: Protesters against Donald Trump or even the Republican Party in general were fairly nonexistent, similar to the lack of pro-Hillary paraphernalia. In fact, protesters stuck to their shining hero, Bernie Sanders (basically denouncing Clinton in the process). The fanatics were certainly persistent, even well after Clinton sealed the Democratic presidential nomination, and in the less than 100 days until the election, it’s doubtful they will give up.
Expectation: This convention and election year will change the future of American history.
Reality: This convention and election year will change the future of American history. Putting aside political beliefs and presidential preferences, the Democratic Party nominated the first female major party presidential candidate, and that’s a pretty remarkable feat. So whatever 2017 holds for us and the next four — or possibly eight — years, it’s progress.
So DNC, it’s been real — a really unusual experience, but an experience nonetheless. Until we meet again. 
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