Inside a US election rally

A stand with spectators at a Clinton rally

So how did I end up being at the Democratic Party event where Hillary Clinton introduced her Vice Presidential running mate Tim Kaine?

I have spent the last two weeks in the US looking at documents relating to Anglo-American relations during the 1930s and 1940s, in particular at disputes between the two countries regarding sovereignty over certain Pacific Islands, and to find out more about what happened I have looked at State Department documents in the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Another aspect of this research is looking at the way in which civil aviation drove and participated in US foreign policy during this period: the Pacific Islands were perfect refuelling spots for the commercial transpacific air routes, and the main player in this was Pan American Airways, known to us as Pan-Am, the archives for which happen to be in Miami!

I completed my research on Friday and was looking for something to do on Saturday before I left to come home, and I’d seen that Clinton had nominated Kaine and would be introducing him to the world at a rally in Miami. So, with nothing else to do, I decided to go.

It was a fascinating insight into political rallies. I got to the stadium, waited in line and chatted with others in the queue in the searing heat. Once through security I walked around the floor to get a feel of the place and it was buzzing. I chose a seat at the back; we had over two hours to wait and I needed to sit down.

I probably managed to find the only other non-voter in the audience; an Indian woman doing her PhD at Florida International University. With our combined healthy cynicism we critiqued the warm up speakers, and when one “doubled-down” on his prayers for Clinton I smiled. Another spoke rather eloquently on the need for healthcare, recounting how her mother had to move to Canada to afford lifesaving support.

Then Clinton came on and gave a great rebuttal of the divisive Republican National Convention in Cleveland that was held last week. 

In reacting to Trump’s “I alone can fix it”, Clinton said that “we are stronger together”. She even likened his position as akin to what dictators do. 

And with a large number of the audience being Cuban-Americans this message was a home run.

She then introduced Tim Kaine, the senator from Virginia as her running mate. He did a good stump speech about where he came from and what his values are. With over 20 years’ experience being a mayor, governor and senator he has the experience and credentials to do well. This was further reinforced with his ability to speak Spanish (the Hispanic vote is important in a key state such as Florida) and being a former civil rights lawyer.

In choosing a safe and not too progressive pair of hands Clinton is looking to appeal to the independents. Whether she can count on the Bernie Sanders supporters depends on how progressive a platform she proposes at next week’s Democratic Party convention: she can’t afford to assume their votes. Whether this turns out to be a strategic success or failure time will tell. My guess is that they’ll turn out in sufficient numbers for her because they see the alternative as too much of a dystopian nightmare.


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