Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 4: David in Denver at Dems gathering

David McKee, 15, of Waxhaw is at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. These are impressions he e-mailed to the Daily Views today:

Today is going to be great. We are guaranteed a seat at the Obama acceptance speech because the whole Junior Statesmen group is volunteering at Invesco field to help with the event. We had to arrive at the stadium this morning at 9 a.m. because we have to get through all the security. I had to get an official North Carolina ID before I left, just for this event, because only state-issued ID's or passports are acceptable proof of identity to get into this event. Security is so tight.

On Wednesday we had a wonderful speaker discussing body langauage that I mentioned in my last dispatch. Dr. LaTosha Bruce came to our speakers' forum to talk to us about "Rhetoric in action, the effects of body language." She showed us videos on different aspects of body language, and we talked about some specifics. For example, the way a person's feet point tells you a lot about what they are thinking. Feet pointing towards the speaker mean they are listening. Feet pointed away from the speaker tell you they are not interested, and they want to leave. Everyone has a personal space of about 3-4 feet around them. When people are being aggressive towards someone, they often lean into their personal space. This way they communicate dominance with out saying anything. If you step forward into someone's personal space, it's seen as more intimate conversation. If someone steps back a pace from you, it means they don't like you! Persuasive people have good use of body language. Active body language is a good thing. Barack Obama gets a good work out from all the movement in his speeches. That means he is using lots of good body language!

Mr. Joel Benenson, who is a pollster and senior strategist for the Obama campaign, spoke to us about polling and how polls are used in planning a campaign. He said he doesn't put much stock into general polls, such as "Do you prefer Obama or McCain"? These polls can fluctuate wildly from day to day and they really don't show anything concrete, even though they get a lot of attention from the media. He says the polls that really matter are polls on issues. Political campaigns use polls on different issues in order to formulate thier platform.

One more interesting thing I learned on Wednesday. Mr. Peter Fenn talked to us about advertising in politics. He noted that these days ads are being used almost like press releases. That when a candidate wants to get something out there, it's easier for them to make an ad, get it on YouTube and quickly spread their message that way rather than a traditional press release. This is a real change in the way a campaign gets the word out.

These speakers really make an impact on me. When we spoke with the Democratic Youth Council, one guy in our group asked the most interesting question. He said "I want to be involved, what do I do?" They said "just start any way you can. Work in your community, volunteer to work with your town council or at your mayor's office. Just start any way you can!" I want to start when I get home.