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Friday, July 30, 2004


Convention energizes Democrats

Party candidates and leaders urge civic participation

For the Mountain Express

BOSTON—At the conclusion of a weeklong convention to rally the country behind him, Sen. John Kerry accepted the full weight of his party’s hopes upon his shoulders Thursday night. And, in the wake of a unified Democratic Party, Kerry is being asked to prove equal to the task of establishing a better tomorrow that for once lives up to its promise.

"People know that this (the Bush) administration is doing a bad job. They want to hear what John Kerry has to offer that is different," said Boise attorney and Idaho delegate Dan Williams. He added that by Thursday night the convention had certainly "laid the foundation for John Kerry to do so".

The strongest layer in that process was cemented on Wednesday, when Sen. John Edwards accepted his nomination as the party’s candidate for vice president. In a powerful speech, Edwards invoked many aspects of the American dream, stressing America’s traditional potential of equality and opportunity: "We choose possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say ‘You can’t do that.’"

The people responded wildly, shaking long, red Edwards posters. The hall looked like a field of overgrown red blades of grass waving in a furious wind.

The hall was so packed with energy that the crowds broke into chants in the midst of an Edwards’ sentence like fans starting chants mid-pitch at a ball game. A serious, business-like Edwards simply kept on, enumerating in startlingly clear and simple details the specific changes the new administration would impose.

"John and I believe at our core," Edwards said toward the end, "that tomorrow can be a better day."

Vermont Gov. Howard Dean addressed the Washington, Democrats Abroad, and the Idaho delegations on Wednesday at the Radisson Hotel, the morning after his convention hall speech.

Dean said he "wants people out there running for office, voting is not enough." Dean urged citizens to run for local office and state legislature, and help in their communities in any way possible. His message was simple: To see change, Americans must not sit back and simply watch their politicians deliver stump speeches, but need to take it upon themselves and exercise their civic responsibility and power.

"I’ve already signed up to help out with my local Democrat running for Idaho Congress" an inspired Kasey O’Brien, 17, said. O’Brien, from north Idaho, is part of the Junior Statesmen of America program. She went on to add, "I’m going to find voting registrations, and get them handed out and encourage people, because I think that’s the first step."

The Democratic Party has emerged this week with an interestingly well-balanced power base. Kerry and Edwards seem to be providing the greater vision and infrastructure, and politicians such as Dean and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio advocating the power of individual responsibility and activism.

The convention has inspired and energized many who look toward the battle in the next three months leading up to the election with renewed vigor.

"There’s a real feeling of unification," said Idaho House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, of Ketchum. "We’re behind the candidates and we’re ready to go home, tell their story, and get them elected."



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.