DNC remains with students after it ends


About 50,000 visitors, included delegates from all the 50 states, politicians and journalists flocked to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention in late July, and while they have since left, some aspects of the convention have stuck with the Penn students still in the city. 

Four Penn students spoke with the DP about some of the highlights of the DNC. One common thread was the impact of First Lady Michelle Obama's speech. 

Rising College sophomore Joseph Gehler said Michelle Obama’s speech was noteworthy for him because he felt it had substance, which he said is rare at conventions.

“I think she really elevated [the convention] from something that’s to entertain to something that’s to unify and move the country forward. I thought that was really impressive,” he said.

Rising College junior Kamelia Stavreva thought the first lady spoke in a way that seemed to appeal to both Hillary Clinton supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters. For her, unity was a concern during the convention. 

She said she was initially concerned that Sanders would fall short of endorsing Clinton, as Republican Senator Ted Cruz failed to endorse Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump during the Republican National Convention. But in the end, Sanders threw his support behind Clinton.

“He did do a pretty strong endorsement of Hillary,” Stavreva said. “I really worry that there are still Bernie supporters or other people who are still against Hillary and they can’t see the danger that it is to let Trump be president.”

Stavreva said she feels appalled by Trump’s rhetoric both at the international and national levels, from his claims that he will put 40 percent tariff on China to disregarding U.S. NATO allies, siding with Russia or wanting to ban Muslims entry to America and labelling Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

“He could ruin a lot of relations with countries that we have worked to build,” she said. “Or on the domestic front, he could really pit one part of America against the other part of America, in a way that I really don’t think is good for anyone.”

College sophomore Kaylee Slusser said her favorite speaker was President Obama, but that the emotional undertones of the first lady’s speech stayed with her. 

“Michelle Obama was fantastic, so so good,” said Slusser.

Slusser said the country took a step in the right direction in making Clinton the first woman nominee of major U.S.political party.

“I grew up in an amazing family; I couldn't have asked for better parents,” Slusser said. “They always have been strong proponents of 'You can do anything,'“ she said. “I think there’s a difference between hearing it your whole entire life and going out into the real world seeing that women do not get paid as much, women are not really in politics. I think if she wins, if she doesn’t win, it’s a huge, huge step.”

Another speaker that made an impression during and after the DNC was Khizr Khan, a Pakistani Muslim man who spoke of the death his son, Captain Humayun Khan, while fighting in Iraq, and also expressed his love for America.

He told Trump during his speech, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” and asked him, “Have you even read the United States constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.”

Rising College senior Krisheena Irwin, who is an African-American Muslim, spoke on the matter.

“My first reaction was a human reaction to the mother because I could see the sorrow in her eyes. But my second feeling was Mr. Khan was being really strong,” she said. “By strong, I mean he wasn’t just cowering in the shadows. They sacrificed a son.”

Irwin, who dresses in long robes with a hijab, said her experience as a Muslim-America is different to that of Muslim immigrants.

“I always kind of come from the perspective that my ancestors built this country with their blood, sweat and tears,” she explained. “But when people see me walking down the street, they might think that I am from another country because of the way I am dressed.”

She added that Khan reached a limit in listening to Trumps policy proposals on Muslims if he becomes president.

“After you lose a son who dedicated his life to the country and then you have a presidential candidate who is talking about all Muslims are questionable and [wanting] to ban Muslims from coming into the country, I can see that Trump’s words had cut him deeply, being that his son served in the military and died in the military,” Irwin said.

Many of the students felt they absorbed the overwhelming “stronger together’ message of the four-day convention.

“Years down the line [I will remember] the general feeling of unity and support that the Democratic party tries to embody and how it provided such a stark contrast to the Republican Convention,” said Stavreva.

This message of unity also appealed to Gehler.

“The Democrats’ message is that it’s not a message of exclusion,” Gehler noted. “it’s a message of inclusion, it’s message of progress, it’s a message of reconciling conflict instead of obliterating the opposition.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.