Editor's note: Canton's Josh Altman, a 2008 graduate, is on the Democratic National Convention floor as one of the youngest members of this year's Georgia delegation. He has agreed to provide Patch with updates from Charlotte. Here is his first post.
What does a Washington state labor activist, a living legend who marched with Dr. King and a young Army lieutenant from Georgia have in common? As those three individuals and thousands of others have gathered for the first two days of the Democratic National Convention, that has emerged as perhaps the most revealing of questions for a young delegate to answer.
It is a question whose answer strikes deep at what it means to be a Democrat today. It is a question whose answer highlights the true diversity of the Democratic Party—a diversity rooted in something far deeper than skin color. It is a diversity of experience. It is the experience of Congressman John Lewis, who marched alongside Martin Luther King for human dignity. It is the experience of the farm and labor activist from Washington, who has knocked on doors on reservations and in the Rio Grande Valley, helping others overcome the strains of poverty and inequality. It is the experience of the Army Lieutenant, fresh out of Officer Candidate School, who believes so strongly in the future of our country that he could not just ask others to defend it.
I don’t know where else such different people find themselves together, people from walks of life with virtually nothing in common. Yet, these different people have found that though their experiences differ, they share the values that make all of us here in Charlotte believe so passionately in President Obama and his vision for our country. Their stories form single strands of the collective Democratic story, and the collective American story, a story whose next chapter will be written by this election.
So what does a labor activist from Washington state, a living legend who marched with Dr. King, a young Army lieutenant, AND this young Georgia delegate have in common? It’s not that we showed up in Charlotte, it is why we showed up. It is a common belief that we can always be better, that we can always reach higher, that the diverse experiences make us strong, and that the next step towards perfecting our union is the re-election of President Barack Obama.