By Len Lazarick | Maryland Reporter
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The streets of Charlotte on Monday were friendlier and more crowded than Sunday, as the city celebrated Labor Day and the Democratic National Convention with Carolina Fest.
Free music, including a set by North Carolina native James Taylor, fried chicken and barbecue were supplemented with advocacy groups and booths backing a range of progressive causes. Vendors hawked President Obama-themed items, from books, buttons and T-shirts, to paintings, sketches and small boxes with the president’s image containing two double-chocolate chip cookies.
Code Pink Women for Peace
All over Tryon Street, which was closed for the festival, hot pink stickers saying “Make Out Not War” were visible on shirts and blouses. Josie Lenwell of Taos, N.M., and Karen Boyer of Portland, Ore., wearing hot pink themselves, were handing them out, as they had done in Tampa, Fla., last week. They represent Code Pink Women for Peace.
“Because of the war, we don’t have money for other things. We should bring our war funds home,” Boyer said, adding, “we’re trying to end the war on women.”
National Democratic Jewish Council
Not far down the street, the National Jewish Democratic Council had parked their bus emblazoned with Obama’s picture, seeking to counter Republican claims that the president is not a true friend of Israel, as Mitt Romney and others have said.
“He has a stellar pro-Israel record,” said David Harris, president and CEO of the council.
Obama has supported Israel missile defense and worked for a global coalition against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, among others issues, he said.
Harris said American Jews are pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, strongly support government social programs, so in order to pry them away from Democrats, Republicans “can talk about Israel and Iran.”
But he said it’s not working.
“The president is doing better against Romney among American Jews today than he was doing against McCain at this time” four years ago, Harris said, and Obama is doing better in polls among Jews than just a few months ago.
‘No Taxation Without Representation’
Marylanders are long familiar with the District of Columbia’s campaign for statehood, and the slogan available on its license plate, “No Taxation Without Representation.”
A small band of supporters were seeking to educate the North Carolina crowd about D.C.’s lack of representation in Congress. John Capozzi, who was a “shadow representative” for the state of New Columbia in the mid-1990s, said his small group was disappointed that Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. non-voting delegate to Congress, was not invited to speak to the convention, as she had in past years. He was hoping they might find another speaker to bring up the topic.
Labor unions had several booths in this right-to-work state where workers cannot be forced to join a union, a sore point with many union Democrats unhappy about the selection of North Carolina to host the convention. There also was a large booth for marriage equality in a state that just passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, another sore point with progressive Democrats.
Don’t let the Republican drive the bus
The men in the booth selling the faux children’s book, “Don’t Let the Republican Drive the Bus,” did not seem to be sore at any one, poking more fun than anger at what they portray as GOP self-centeredness. The authors, Erich Origen and Gan Golan, dressed as Uncle Sam and a chicken, were signing copies.
“I hate public transit,” says the book’s lead character, a vulture named Birdbrain. “Then again I hate anything with the word public in it. So can I drive the bus.”
“When Romney was called a ‘vulture capitalist,’ it confirmed we had chosen the right bird,” Origen says on the book’s website.
Contact Len Lazarick at Len@MarylandReporter.com