President Obama and the DNC Reception in Harlem

For Your Reading // Only in NY // Politics 3.0

-From Jon Reznick:

Though I will always extol the glory of being able to move about freely, even climbing right on some stage when shooting public events, it is very nice sometimes to roll out to a special event *without* my camera, so I can just stand back and take part. Because of my connection to the illustrious network maintained and operated by the Manhattan Young Democrats, I was able to walk into an exclusive reception with the President of the United States. It’s actually not how I figured I’d be spending my Tuesday until a few days ago.

On March 29, the Democratic Party held a reception at the Studio Museum in Harlem to thank the biggest financial supporters of Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. President Obama dropped in on the soiree to share his remarks. Perhaps people expected it would be a little chummy, but spacious, like at any good art opening. I have experienced thinner crowds at Radiohead shows, and more courteous crowds at Tool shows. But everybody chilled out a bit (even if the room did not) when Governor Tim Kaine took the stage and spoke for barely a minute in introducing in introducing the President of the United States.

We young’guns derived great amusement watching some of the wealthiest people in Manhattan come to grips with the old adage of political optics: “book a small room and fill it.” I am pretty sure some of them did not realize they’d have to stand with the middle class. But there we were.

The President spoke briskly about some achievements part way into his term, and about some of what remains unfinished. The issues he highlighted (for a putative new term) included immigration reform, energy policy, improved telecommunications access, and fiscal prudence. The last of that list did not really do anything for the crowd compared to the prior items. But overall, while the President spoke enthusiastically and ably, he was low key. On a lot of his speech, the crowd was far more excited than he was. Nonetheless, he managed to touch on many of the issues that matter to me most going into next year’s election. 2010 spoiled me in that I no longer feel I have to support any politician who I cannot get in the room with and so I am glad I got into this particular room.

From Sophia James:

On Tuesday, March 29th, I had the fortunate opportunity to join fellow Manhattan Young Democrats and an intimate group of financial supporters and elected officials from the Harlem community at President Obama’s coveted reception at the Studio Museum in Harlem. President Obama’s visit was certainly symbolic due to his history with Harlem and the foundation that there’s no other black community that resonates domestically and internationally. Harlem is historically known as a center for black culture both in New York and nationally, but the evening was not principally aimed at African Americans but to all of us who believe in an economically sound and Democratic future.

The feeling I got that evening was the reception was not only about fundraising, but to renew faith and energy for the future, to gain momentum for what’s ahead in re-election efforts. Exuberant “Yes We Can” resonated throughout the President’s speech, but President Obama remained composed and focused. I can agree that these are serious times, as we battle with budgets and policy issues across the nation. In his speech, President Obama spoke on key issues, such as immigration reform, energy policy, building and expanding telecommunications access, and fiscal conservatism. It is most important during this time that we exhibit frugality…however, the education passionate that I am, wanted to know how far does that reach in education spending? Despite these concerns, President Obama relayed that it is “a challenging time”, he cannot do what he does without the knowledge that we support him – “that I have a lot of people rooting for me, a lot of people supporting me.” What’s more than showing him is by being present, front and center at Tuesday’s reception and in the upcoming months.