Wisconsin DNC Delegates Hopeful They Can Still Make Connections During Virtual Convention
On Monday, the Democratic National Convention kicked off virtually. Very little is happening at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee’s downtown and most speeches are being broadcast remotely with a mix of live and pre-recorded videos.
To get a little sense of what conventions are generally like, we spoke with state Rep. Lakeshia Myers, one of Joe Biden’s delegates in Wisconsin. Myers was also a delegate for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia in 2016.
“There is an electric type of energy that happens every four years when Democrats get together. You see friends from across the country,” she says.
Myers says she met party stars like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and mingled at National Black Caucus meetings. She says an in-person convention this year, like the one scheduled before the coronavirus pandemic, would have been a great opportunity for visitors to enjoy Milwaukee.
“Understand, you know, why we are the America's Dairyland especially having cheese,” says Myers. “You know, real frozen custard that you can't get pretty much anywhere else in the country.”
Myers was excited for people to discover lesser-known gems, too, like the Silver City and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
Deiadra Queary, another Biden delegate from Milwaukee, shares Myers’ disappointment.
“I just think, you know, it's just like being a kid on Christmas is like somebody canceling Christmas,” she says.
Queary says she grew up watching Democratic National Conventions and was excited to be a part of this one. But she says a virtual event was the responsible thing to do and adds it’s the new frontier. Delegates voted for the party’s nominee online. Many people will watch the convention on computers, tablets and phones.
“The younger people, the millennials, the Gen Zers, the young people after that, they know what the virtual world is. They live there already, you know. So, I think people just have to embrace imagination. And as challenging as it may be, embrace that the world changed on a dime,” says Queary.
Lauren Yoder is one of those Gen Zers that Queary is talking about. She’s a Biden delegate from Waukesha and spoke a day before her 19th birthday.
"I think it would have been really neat to connect with other young progressives. But of course, we're all pretty technologically savvy, so we can still connect,” she says.
Yoder says even virtual political outreach is second nature on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
Ben Wikler, chair of the state Democratic Party, says delegates were able to upload videos for broadcast during the convention.
“And the stories of delegates and of everyday democrats across the country are going to be shared far and wide,” he says.
Wikler says the convention is fundamentally about people.