No Party for You

Here’s what to expect if Denver wins the 2008 Democratic National Convention. There will be a lot of great parties-and you won’t be invited.

Every time Democrats or Republicans host a party convention, wherever it may be, corporate interests take the occasion to lavish money, libations, top-end food, and entertainment on attendees. After all, whoever wins the election will be in the position to return many a favor-why not be gracious hosts?

The 2004 GOP convention in New York featured such events as a “cosmic bowling” party, sponsored by Bank of America, featuring balls and lanes that glowed in the dark, all in honor of Rep. David Dreier (R-CA). In Boston, Bell South, the Edison Electric Institute, and a host of other companies threw a big bash at the New England Aquarium for retiring Sen. John B. Breaux (D-LA), who once quipped that his vote wasn’t for sale, but it was for “rent.” (Since then Breaux has hung up his lobbying shingle at the lobbying powerhouse firm Patton Boggs.)
True, the Republicans are always better at collecting the big bucks. In 2004, the GOP host committee raised some $85.7 million and the Democrats, $56.8 million. But many of the corporate donors hedged their bets by tossing dollars at both the GOP and the Dems: Verizon was high up on the list of donors to both parties; so were Time Warner, IBM, Citigroup, Pfizer, and AT&T.

Sure there are some local employers who may have civic reasons for boosting their home town. But most of these tend to also have business in the nation’s capital, where they’re looking for policy paybacks. The pharmaceutical industry, typically big givers to the conventions, recently saw their prescription drug plan pass Congress. The telecommunications companies push for more deregulation. The oil and gas industry wants to drill everywhere it can-including the western slope of Colorado.

Who is left out of this? The ordinary folks who are left watching the conventions on their tv screens, while munching microwave popcorn and wondering why the politicians they see can’t seem to pass legislation for a host of vital needs from access to health care to safe food to a healthy environment. Only a very few of us have several hundred thousand dollars to spare to throw a big event to make our point.

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About the Author

Nancy Watzman

is a Denver-based writer.

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