I’m home from the convention. Completely exhausted, but it was totally worth it.
Both of the candidates I’ve been working for did well. Both finished in second place, which was what we expected in both races. (Both of them are facing candidates with more money and political capital than they have. One has a super-PAC, which is a rant for another day.) I was pretty pleased with myself because I accurately predicted the rankings in 3 of the 4 races. (The fourth one, the treasurer’s race, I honestly just didn’t care much about.)
Physically, it was a tough day. I only got about 3 hours of sleep–probably not even that, since a lot of it was this twilight state where I knew I wasn’t quite asleep. After the first hour, if I tried to stay on my feet for more than a minute or two, my legs would start shaking so bad I’d have to sit down. It’s the same feeling as you get during an intense workout when your muscles get so fatigued they twitch and shake, but there was no intense workout happening–just trying to stand up. I did manage to stand up for the pledge of allegiance, but I had to sit down for the national anthem.
If you recall, my job was supposed to be to follow the party teller around my senate district all day to record who was here for roll call and then who they voted for once voting started in the afternoon. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Luckily, our senate district lead whip was able to do that, and then I’d tally everything, text the soft numbers to the campaign staff, and enter the data in on my phone. It worked out.
I was pretty frustrated, though, by the convention’s disability-unfriendliness. Unfriendly isn’t quite the right term since that implies an intentional effort to make things harder. I think it was more just that they didn’t have a great idea of what true accessibility is. For instance, they had closed-captioning of everything on two big screens, which is great…but then people would stand in front of them. We had a Deaf woman in our delegation, so our whips were constantly having to ask people to move so she could see the captioning. There were a lot of times when people were asked to stand–presentation of the colors, the invocation prayer, the pledge of allegiance, the national anthem, and retiring the colors…took about 15 minutes in all. And in my senate district, when we voted, the party teller wanted each town to move to a different corner of our assigned seating area. The rows of seats were extremely narrow, littered with lit and bags and water bottles, and impossible to navigate safely with the cane. So I sat down in the aisle closest to where the party teller put my town, and then somebody from the convention center staff told me I couldn’t do that because it was a fire hazard. There was one man in our senate district who needed a wheelchair, but since it was stadium seating that his wheelchair would never fit into, he just had to sit there in the aisle, not really with the rest of the delegates. At several points during the convention when no one was speaking, they turned on music and flashing strobe lights–um, guys, with 6000 people there, I can pretty much bet there are people with epilepsy, and that crap could trigger seizures.
I don’t think any of this was malicious at all, but it was still disappointing, especially since they made a big point of saying that the convention and the convention center were 100% accessible. I think people who haven’t had firsthand experience of disability think that as long as you’ve got wheelchair ramps, it’s totally accessible. But accessibility is much more than that. I don’t know who plans these conventions, but I’m gonna guess they have few if any people with disabilities involved. I’d like to see them do a lot better.
Funny side note: one of the sponsors of the convention was a pharmaceutical company called AbbVie. (I assume they were sponsors or something similar because they had AbbVie pens in the swag bags all the delegates got.) They’re best known for Humira, which I take for ulcerative colitis. It was an odd coincidence.
Okay. Now I’m gonna sleep for a week. My whole body hurts, and my colon is being a jerk. And after about 6 hours of sleep out of the last 60, I’m barely coherent.