In the name of political reform, hundreds assembled at Penn for Shadow Conventions 2000 to discuss issues they felt weren't being addressed at the GOP convention.
The shadow convention -- oranized by political columnist Ariana Huffington and several other political activists -- kicked off on Sunday with Arizona Senator and campaign reform champion John McCain addressing the delegates assembled in Zellerbach Theater.
But when McCain used his speech to endorse his fellow republican and former presidential opponent Texas Governor George W. Bush, many in attendance expressed their distaste in a series of boos, shouts and hollers from their seats in the theater.
"I believe still, despite our imperfections, that the Republican Party is the party of reform," McCain said, urging the delegates to vote for Bush. "We do agree on many more issues than we disagree on."
But when the audience responded to McCain's support of Bush with shouts of "this isn't why we're here" and uproarious laughter, McCain's message of campaign finance reform got lost in party politics.
At one point, Huffington came out on stage to ask the audience to respect McCain's remarks. And McCain himself told the audience that "if you'd like I do not need to continue."
He left the stage without taking questions from audience members as was originally scheduled.
McCain did have a slew of supporters within Zellerbach, with dozens trying to quiet the dissenters and others hurriedly waving signs left over from McCain's bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
The hundreds of delegates carried brightly colored posterboard criticizing the war on drugs and asserting that they would fight against corporate control of American politics, another central theme of the convention.
After McCain's introduction, the delegates focused on several issues, namely the war on drugs, campaign finance and poverty.
"Our convention is only brought to you by a longing to fix our political system," Huffington said. "We want a movement that will change the wind. And when we change the wind, politicians will stick their fingers in the air and see which way it's blowing."
The delegates attended numerous round table discussion on the three chosen topics, hearing from, among others, Reverend Jesse Jackson, former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger and New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
Former Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken appeared at Zellerbach on Tuesday, in character as his popular Stuart Smalley identity. Franken's comic performance generated uproarious laughter and cheers from the delegates.
The use of humor when discussing politics was continually emphasized throughout the shadow convention.
Shadow Conventions 2000 also featured three "Urban Recovery Tours" that escorted vanfuls of delegates through parts of North Philadelphia, Camden, N.J. and Chester, Pa. in hopes of instigating conversation about poverty among delegates.
The shadow convention featured live telecasts of the GOP convention each day, with several panels of speakers issuing "rapid responses" to the assertions made by politicians at the First Union Center.
Philadelphia's shadow convention, with several hundred delegates and around 100 more speakers, will come to a close tonight after a day dedicated to journalism. Annenberg School for Communication Kathleen Hall Jamieson will lead a panel this afternoon on the role of the media in changing the landscape of national politics.
In two weeks, Shadow Conventions 2000 will travel to Los Angeles to stage a similar alternate gathering at the Democratic National Convention.Comments powered by Disqus
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