By Stephen Gruber-Miller
Many Grinnellians are excited about the coming election, from the volunteers registering students to vote every day outside the dining hall to those who gathered in the Grill to watch President Barack Obama’s speech last Thursday. But only one can claim that she helped nominate a presidential candidate: Andrea Nemecek ’14 went to the Democratic National Convention last week, where she gave a speech during the roll call of the states and helped cast Iowa’s 62 votes to nominate Obama as the Democratic candidate for president.
Nemecek was selected from Iowa’s First Congressional District Democratic Convention to be a national delegate. Her speech was Iowa’s voice in nominating Obama.
“In 2008, in the face of impossible odds, Iowans from small towns and big cities came together in support of a common belief: that people who love this country can change it,” she said in the speech. “And what began as a journey in Iowa became a national movement focused on turning shared responsibilities into shared prosperity.”
Antonio Montoya of Clive, who attended Grinnell in the fall of 2011, gave the second half of the speech, speaking of Iowa’s early voting and officially casting Iowa’s 62 votes.
Out of around 15,000 people in the arena in Charlotte, N.C., including media and guests, Nemecek was one of almost 6,000 delegates and only 600 delegates under 35. This was Nemecek’s first national convention and this will be first presidential election she is able to vote in, so she said the experience meant a lot to her.
“It was kind of a larger than life experience,” she said.
Nemecek said that, besides her speech, the ratification of the Democratic Party platform stood out for her at the convention.
“What was really special about it was that it was the first party platform that had a plank in support of marriage equality,” she said. “It really made me proud to be a Democrat.”
Nemecek had plenty of opportunities to meet well-known politicians at the Iowa delegation breakfasts, such as Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J. She was also able to see many of the Democratic Party’s big names up close, such as Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, Deval Patrick and Madeleine Albright.
“The Democratic National Convention, for one week, is the center of the political universe,” Nemecek said. “To be a part of it is really just an amazing experience.”
She said the diversity of the convention made an impression on her as well. There was a wide range of speakers onstage supporting the party.
“I feel like it really showcased what the Democratic Party is all about, and that’s inclusion,” Nemecek said.
The highlight of any convention is the speeches, which Nemecek enjoyed. Former President Bill Clinton’s improvisational skill onstage was impressive, she said, and President Obama had a “great” acceptance speech.
“It had a very good balance of themes from 2008, like hope and change,” she said, “and more of a pragmatic tone that’s more relevant now.”
However, the most exciting speech, to Nemecek, was Michelle Obama’s.
Nemecek said she attended the convention partly to learn about the political process from a unique perspective and partly to support Obama, for whom she has campaigned since 2008. Now that she is back, she said she is ready to campaign with renewed vigor.
“I’m definitely more excited and energized to help re-elect the president,” she said.
Perhaps the biggest thing about the convention that Nemecek said she will remember is the energy and positive atmosphere. If anyone has the opportunity to attend a national convention in the future, for either party, she recommends that they go and assures that their experience will be incredible. Hers certainly was.