Dr. David Dillman, director of the Jack Pope Fellows Program, and Rebecca Dial, president of the Students’ Association, participated in this year’s Democratic National Convention, conducted from September 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Democratic National Convention is a gathering of members of the Democratic Party during which presidential and vice presidential candidates are officially nominated to run for office. Held every four years, the convention was first organized in 1832.
Dillman, a political science professor, has attended every convention since 1980, save the gathering in 1984. Dillman worked as a “speaker tracker,” which he explained as being part of the podium operation, including production, rehearsal and speech writing. Dillman helped get speakers through security into rehearsal to prepare them for their speeches, including on the night of their speech.
“I think it’s an important part of the process,” said Dillman. “Some of it may be sort of grunt work, but there are issues that arise, unusual situations that arise, that have to be dealt with.”
Dillman worked extensively with this year’s keynote speaker, Julian Castro, mayor of San Antonio. He also escorted Bev Purdue, governor of North Carolina, Arne Duncan, secretary of education and Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan. In the past, he has worked with figures such as Nancy Pelosi, former House majority leader, and John Kerry, Massachusetts senator.
Dillman stressed that politicians are often wrongly portrayed in a negative light especially to students.
“Politicians, and the people in politics, are by and large good and decent people.”
Dillman also briefly met with student Rebecca Dial during the convention and showed her some aspects of his responsibilities. Dial, a senior political science and finance major from Lexington, South Carolina, was a member of the Credentials Committee and was one of nine Texas representatives tasked with finding any outstanding delegation issues with the candidates.
“It’s basically about choosing the delegates who get to represent the state,” said Dial, who had never attended the convention before. “It was a really good way to go and feel involved in the process.”
Dial praised the atmosphere and the speeches as full of passion and high energy. The speech that impacted her most was the one given by the women of the House of Representatives.
“All of the women who were representatives in the House came on stage and spoke about what they’re doing. Seeing them all up there was really impactful to me as a woman.”
While Dillman said he might not attend the convention again, Dial is eager to go back.
“We have this huge group of people who are all fighting for the same causes and really feel passionate about the same issues,” Dial said. “I want to continue to be a part of that.”