Illinois sent 215 delegates to Charlotte this week to nominate President Barack Obama at the party's national convention. IPR's Amanda Vinicky spoke with some of them in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention about why they're backing him for re-election:
President Obama painted a more nuanced version of hope as he accepted Democrats' nomination and asked Americans' for their support in November's election. He guaranteed them, America IS moving forward."
"Now I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick, or easy. I never have. You didn't elect me to tell me what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth."
For many of the Illinois delegates who had a front row seat to it all, Obama is a source of pride.
Steve Sheffey of Highland Park, backs Obama
"Because I think Barack Obama has been the best President on Israel ever."
Obama this week pushed for Democrats to revise the party platform, to define Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Republicans have charged that he's not doing enough to protect the Jewish state from Iran. Sheffey disagrees. He says both parties are strong on Israel. Which is why he says his political choices are based on OTHER issues:
"Why vote on where parties are similar? Let's look at where they differ. And where they differ on every single issue the Democratic Party is better on things that most Jews care about like choice, marriage equality, economic justice, health insurance."
In a delegation rich with people from Chicago and its suburbs, Stephen Scates is an anomaly. He's a farmer from Shawneetown, in the deep south-eastern part of Illinois.
"Well I think that, you know, the fact that he, with health care, with all of the other issues that are out there on the budget, he's certainly going to be out there, for the middle class, to make sure that we all have the opportunity with education, and all the other programs that he's for. I don't know anything that he's for that I'm not.”
Scates has been a D-N-C delegate before. But it hasn't gotten old. He says it was especially inspiring to see Obama on stage Wednesday night with President Bill Clinton.
It is Ken Wollin's first time as a delegate. He says even the formal process of delivering his vote to nominate Obama as the Democrats' nominee, by adding his signature to a form, was a thrill. An Illinois delegate. Nominating an Illinoisan for President.
"It just gets better and better. So far I've sat four rows or five rows from the platform. Who could even dream of that?"
Wollin's a retired teacher who missed it so much he now substitutes. He now lives in Forsyth, just outside of Decatur. But most of his career in education was in Carmi, in southern Illinois. He still reads the local paper online to keep up with former students.
"And I see some lower income students dying like in their 30s and 40s. And one young man, it's just really tragic, he had some kind of appendicitis, and he didn't get to the right place. And he passed away, way early."
Which explains one of the main reasons he backs the president's reelection, he believes in the Affordable Health Care Act's expansion of coverage.
"I've just seen too many cases of children that were sent home because they didn't have a physical or because they had lice."
Health care is also what inspires Jayne Mazzotti, a member of the Democrats' State Central Committee, and a middle school French and Spanish teacher from Taylorville.
"We should not in a country like this every have anybody who suffers or passes away because of lack of medical care. That's insufferable. And having lived in France for awhile, even as a student, I was eligible for their health care. As a student. So I value that."
As a teacher, and parent of two college students, she also believes in Obama's policies on education.
"He promises things that he's followed through on and unlike Governor Romney who feels like you should have the best education that you personally can afford and unfortunately for many Americans, that's a dream."
Obama won the Presidency four years ago with promises of fulfilling Americans' dreams. His critics say that's all they were. Dreams, that never became a reality. Obama's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is trying to present himself as a leader who can make it happen. In Obama's acceptance speech, he laid forth his own plan. His renewed vision. Tried and true Democrats like Mazzotti who filled the convention hall last night greeted it with thunderous applause. But that's not who Obama has to convince. If he doesn't want to be sent from the White House back to Illinois, Obama has to bring in the undecided voters. The moderates. The disillusioned. Again, Jayne Mazotti:
"Isn't it always more fun when it's new and fresh? Think about a relationship when it's new and fresh. There's a romance there. You're sort of falling in love with a candidate. But now the love is stronger. It's more intense. And it's more real because we know him better."
And it would be a travesty, she says, if America were to end that relationship.
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