After a difficult 19-month pregnancy, Charlotte hatched a dazzling Democratic National Convention last week. Compliments all around. Even I was impressed.
Though it never lived up to the weird hype of being the most open and accessible convention in history (even some delegates couldnt get into the arena because it had reached its capacity, forcing the fire marshal to close the doors), it was well-executed.
It helped that uptowns weekday workforce stayed away en masse. Those towers havent been that empty since the last time it snowed an inch.
There was only one embarrassment in convention week: the caliber of our protesters.
We were expecting some big stuff. We were looking for high-minded, passionate demonstrators to (as they like to say in the newspapers) wreak havoc and clash with authorities.
We got wimps.
Theres no accurate census of how many came to exercise their rights to demonstrate, but in every encounter I saw, protesters seemed outnumbered by police, reporters and guys hawking $5 Obama buttons. If you throw in the zealot with the loudspeaker in the empty lot ranting about fornication and the guy hollering about his bill at the Blake Hotel, Id say we got maybe 800 protesters.
We spent $50 million on security and those dancing traffic cops from Georgia could have probably handled most of the troublemakers by themselves.
When you host a big political convention, you expect a little bit more. I remember the masses from the 60s and 70s, demonstrating for important things like civil rights and an end to the war in Vietnam.
As near as I could figure, the big issue last week was that banks made too much money. I dont disagree, but were a happy nation if thats the hottest issue around.
Now, to the future.
Chronic naysayers have little standing to say that Charlotte shouldnt reach out for bigger things. Super Bowl? Olympics?
No, of course not. Were basketball territory. We need to go after the Final Four.
This will require us to build a new arena, a little bit bigger one, so the fire marshal doesnt get nervous. Thats no problem we build new ones all the time. Were good at it.
But we should erect one of those historic signs they put up along the highways so this years grand event is not forgotten. I suggest the following wording:
On this very spot, in the year 2012, Charlotte did what people said couldnt be done. It attained a status that shall stand in the nations memory forever. Here, the Bobcats lost 23 straight games for the worst winning percentage in NBA history, then hosted a convention.