I once again had a the opportunity to get on the road with the Project Vote Smart Bus. This month long leg took us to Missoula, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and to both parties' conventions in Denver and St. Paul.
Unfortunately, the political pulse was not very high in the weeks approaching the conventions, but most stops still brought quality turns by both voters and the media. I'll give you a little summary of how the conventions went for PVS.
Denver We got to Denver Saturday night and the police presence was immediately known. Riot police even kicked us off the bus within an hour of us being there.
Our parking spot was in a parking lot with a few other buses (buses are all the rage right now, with Rock the Vote, ONE, the Breast Cancer Awareness Society, The Bush Legacy, CNN, CSPAN, The Daily Show, and even Trojan Condoms having buses at the Convention, so there was definitely much for us to compete with). We were about a half mile from the Pepsi Center and directly across from the Colorado Convention Center. It was a good spot and there was a lot of quality foot traffic. People that came by seemed to like Vote Smart, but obviously, this was not the most ideal spot for non-partisanship. It was great to see young people involved and families all there to be part of our political process. Downtown Denver was packed with delegates, voters, and vendors - you could buy almost anything with a picture of Obama on it. There was definitely a buzz in the air all week. Unfortunately, there was so much going on that PVS didn't get much media attention.
One interesting note, Rock the Vote had a few trucks parked in the same lot as us. And though they too are a nonprofit, nonpartisan group, their tactics are definitely different than ours. They have corporate sponsorship and celebrity endorsements and use entertainment to attract people to voting. I for one am glad that Project Vote Smart sticks to it's mission statement, and although it isn't sexy and doesn't bring in as much money, it give voters the information they need.
St. Paul - St. Paul was much different than Denver. There seemed to be no regular people around - just protesters and riot police. We talked to tons of people on Monday and Tuesday, but then the city was basically dead Wednesday and Thursday. All the delegates were bussed directly into the Convention Center and never interacted with anyone else. I supposed this is a safeguard due to protests in the past, but it was disappointing for PVS.
It was an interesting week. A good number of people were still interested in our bus, but again, not as many as we hoped.
So, the Conventions weren't as groundbreaking for Project Vote Smart as we hoped, but our presence there was necessary. We provide an alternative partisan politics as usual.
10 September 2008
Written by Tony