By now, you probably know that the Democratic National Convention is in town this week. For some, it’s an event to avoid. Call it political apathy or simply an aversion to potential traffic headaches. For others, though, the convention is the political equivalent of the Super Bowl.
Eleanor Dezzi is one of those people — what you might call a super-delegate if that term wasn’t already taken. Philadelphia’s convention will be her seventh time being a Democratic delegate.
She can’t wait.
“Number one: Philadelphia is the birthplace. We have the real Independence Hall. We have the real Declaration of Independence. Everything was done here. Plus, this time, we’re making history because a woman will be nominated as the candidate of the major party, the Democratic Party — that glass ceiling really is beginning to crack,” said Dezzi.
Dezzi’s first convention was in New York in 1992, the first time Bill Clinton was nominated. But she got the political bug much earlier when she still in high school. She was volunteering for her uncle, former U.S. Rep. William Barrett, who was famously re-elected several weeks after he died.
“I was sitting there taking notes and doing what I was supposed to, but I was learning and I was realizing that he never said ‘are you going to vote for me, what party are you?’ He just took it as his responsibility was to help these people in their time of need and crisis,” said Dezzi.
In college, Dezzi worked on campaigns, before spending time in city and state government. She was part of Mayor Wilson Goode’s Administration and was special assistant to former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey. She later returned to the private sector as a political consultant.
To Dezzi, being a delegate is an extension of all of that work.
“It really is democracy in action. And you get to vote on a platform. And you get to vote on the issues that you really care about. And I get very excited about that. We don’t agree on everything, but there’s an old Irish saying, when two people agree on everything, one is unnecessary,” she said.
It’s Nicole Allen’s first time being a delegate, but she’s the post through the same prism — civic engagement. And she’s no newbie when it comes to that.
Millennial politics is a big part of Allen’s life. She belongs to Young Involved Philadelphia and chairs Gen250, an arm of a nonprofit organizing a celebration of the country’s 250th birthday. She even launched her own group, the Pattison Leader Group, with her husband.
At first, Allen said she didn’t fully know what it meant to be a delegate. She did know that she wanted a way to get more involved, and get a front-row seat for what she sees as an important part of the political process.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn from others, other people in my generation or other generations, how various urban areas around the country are handling the similar issues that we have,” said Allen.
Like Dezzi, she said she is really looking forward to the week’s events. To her, this is when the general election race really starts.
“However way we go in November, that will set the tone for where we stand as a country and how committed we are to the principles that our founders put in place,” said Allen.