In an election year full of surprises and startling developments, senior Alex Amirato received a rare opportunity to attend the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which was held in Philadelphia from July 25-28, to experience the hype first hand. Amirato, who is considering majoring in political science, became interested in politics during the primaries.
“I was really excited, but at the same time I didn’t really know what to expect; I haven’t really watched any of the other conventions because I was too young,” Amirato said.
Amirato attended the final two days of the convention, and she watched major political leaders, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, give speeches to the crowd of supporters.
“On Wednesday night I saw Obama, and that was my first night there. Obama is a really phenomenal speaker; he really means what he’s saying, and he’s a very intelligent person. His speech was really great,” Amirato said. “I’ve always watched his speeches on TV, and thought he was very talented at public speaking, so seeing him in person was really cool.”
Alex also heard Hillary Clinton speak and noted the differences between Clinton’s speech and Obama’s serious tone.
“They’re very different people,” Amirato said. “Obama’s speech was a lot more urgent and serious. He would talk about Trump and the crowd would boo; but he would say, ‘Don’t boo, go out and vote.’ Hillary was more positive, and she talked about the future and her agenda.”
Philadelphia has a strong political background, and Amirato has visited there before. However, this time she confronted anti-Clinton, pro-Bernie Sanders protesters who were angry about Clinton’s nomination.
“Philadelphia is a really cool city, but the protesters threw me off because the last time I was there, it was just a regular day. They really messed with Philadelphia’s vibe because it’s normally laid back,” Amirato said. “They had huge signs, and there was talk that they were going to pelt the buses with balloons filled with their pee. This mob was taking the usual protest characteristics up a notch.”
Inside the convention center, Amirato described the atmosphere as a bit overwhelming and very exciting.
“It was really loud because there was a lot of networking going on, people meeting other people and making deals. Everyone is kind of dressed up so that’s cool too, and you know everyone there has a purpose,” Amirato said. “The DNC is a major event, so plenty of news stations, reporters, and TV crews were present on each day.”
According to homefacts.com, Fauquier is currently about 57 percent Republican and 43 percent Democratic. Amirato enjoyed being in a less politically conservative environment.
“All of the people there, once you got outside of the city and inside the convention center, were just so kind because everyone there agrees with each other for the most part,” Amirato said. “It was really different, especially from Fauquier County ,because it’s a really conservative county, so it was different to be somewhere where pretty much everyone there has the same views and values as you do.”
Amirato is not among peers with similar political views while in her hometown. After returning from her trip, she received negative comments from some of her classmates.
“I just got a lot of backlash and texts about how I was ignorant for being a Democrat and how people were unhappy about me going to the DNC. I was upset at first but I guess that’s just politics,” Amirato said. “Everyone should be sure to respect others’ opinions and converse in civil ways about politics and disagreements.”
Amirato is currently a fall fellow with the campaign, so she spends her time at the phone banks and knocking on doors to register people to vote in the election. She spends about 15 hours a week volunteering at the Fauquier Democratic office in Warrenton.
“The convention really boosted my interest in politics; I was already interested in following the election before I watched all of the debates,” Amirato said. “Now, I’m involved in the county with the campaign.”
Many political analysts say that the ability of each party to get people out to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, will be a deciding factor in which candidate is elected. Amirato believes that this is a big problem with this generation of new voters.
“I feel like everybody really needs to get out and register and vote,” Amirato said. “A lot of people think that their vote doesn’t matter, and it really does.”
Amirato learned a lot from her experience at the DNC, and it has shaped the field of study she wants to pursue in college.
“The experience was really mind- changing. I was really thankful just to get that experience,” Amirato said. “I got to see how everything works, and how all of the people’s jobs worked together to make it happen. To go behind the scenes was really cool.”
~nate thomason, staff reporter