Vote John Kerry for Cheap Sausage – Looking Back On the Last Night of the DNC: Young people say Democrats will get them paid
YO! Youth Outlook, News Feature, Published August 3, 2004
I’ve learned that most of the work in covering a convention is sneaking into parties.
The sun is coming up in Boston and I’m on the runway at Logan airport trying to get out of town. I haven’t slept in 36 hours because I was running around town last night trying to find the after-party of the after-party on the last night of the Democratic Convention.
All the parties are over now and Kerry came out looking a lot better than he did going in. The first night of the convention, I talked to die hard democrats and the best they could say for John Boy was “He’s not Bush.” Four nights later, after Kerry sent his love letter to America, I watched Boston club kids stumble to their cars at 2:30 in the morning only half-sarcastically chanting, “Kerry! Kerry!”
That was at the Avalon night club in the shadow of Fenway park, where Boston’s young and beautiful locals come to drink blue cognac and dance to Lil’ John. A few convention types showed up, but they quickly realized this wasn’t their party and scurried back to the Marriot.
I tried to sneak into the Avalon the same way I snuck in everywhere all week long–with a Kinko’s rush job press badge and a blazer. But it was a local’s party and the only thing the bouncers were interested in was their fifteen dollars.
So I walked up the block to the sausage stand where I found two Irish kids arguing with the vendor. “Faive dollers? Are ya krayzeh? If John Kerry wair president, they’d be three dollers.” Here’s one thing I know: If drunken Irish boys are arguing that you’ll lower the price of sausage, you can be president. Congratulations, Mr. Kerry. You’ve made it a race.
I talked to a lot of young people on the last night of the convention about whom they’d vote for in November. Almost everyone I talked to liked Kerry and most of them said they’d vote Democratic for the same reason: they think they’re getting some money out of the deal.
I ran into Dexter on my way to Puff Daddy’s Vote or Die party. Dexter’s from South Carolina and he came to the convention with his mom, who is a delegate. He’s only sixteen, so he won’t be able to vote in the election, but he’s still got some pretty strong opinions. “What the Republicans are doing, I’m just not feelin’ it. They’re more about the upper class rather than the middle class. The Democrats need to be back in office and when they do get there, taxes are gonna lower for me and they’re gonna focus more on my community rather than everybody that lives in the suburbs and the high class people–the rich.”
Dexter also told me that he’s against the war, which he calls a “personal war” and a “mess the Republicans got us into and the Democrats can get us out of.” He told me his cousin was killed in Iraq four months ago, but that’s not the main reason he’s against the war.
“I lost a cousin and that angers me, the fact that I lost my cousin over that. Really, though, I have a job right now and I’m not getting paid what I deserve because the government is taking so much of our money to fight this war. It’s a waste of American money. It’s a waste of my money.”
Back at the Fleet Center, there STILL weren’t any protesters, but Kerry was due to go on and there was a line of frantic news people and delegates who got shut out of the building. The official story is that the Fire Marshall wasn’t letting any people in for the rest of the night because it was too crowded.
I managed to slip in, but while I was figuring out how, I talked to a seventeen-year-old from Massachusetts who was hoping to see Kerry speak. His name was Alex and luckily, his birthday is in September so he’ll be able to vote. He, too, has thrown his support behind Kerry and the issue, again, is money.
“What this country needs is somebody who’s gonna be fiscally conservative because this administrations’ poor investments are turning sour. I’m into social issues and Kerry’s talking about getting jobs for people. I’m gonna be getting into the job market soon. With the job market the way it is now, everyone, even people with a college education, is gonna have a hard time finding a job.”
Alex wasn’t there to protest or stargaze (Ben Affleck! Jerry Springer!) or even to ogle all the sexy young delegates–he was trying to sneak in to the Fleet Center to see John Kerry speak. (On a Thursday night when he could have been trying to sneak into Avalon.)
And I hope he got in because it was a great speech. Part JFK, part Michael Moore–people inside the Fleet Center cried tears of joy. And it resonated outside of there, too, all the way across town in the shadow of Fenway Park.
I finally decided fifteen dollars was too much to pay after a week of free parties, so I started the long walk back home around three in the morning. I passed over the freeway, where the ABC news bus thundered past on its way back to New York. That’s how I knew the party was over. In a couple hours, John Kerry and his Band of Burros will have to leave Boston. And they’ll have a lot of work to do.
They can start by cutting taxes in South Carolina, securing jobs for college graduates and lowering the price of sausage.