The DNC roll call is wonderful.
We are in for it, these next 76 days: If it’s not the pandemic or the murder hornets or the fire-nadoes or the sharks or the miserable inability of approximately 43% of this country to channel any sort of empathy or the spotted lanternflies or the assault on our arctic refuges or the assault on our post offices or the actual assaults on actual people by other people, sworn to protect them — well, if it’s not any of that, it’ll be something else. Myriad other disasters surely await us, in the double-overtime run-up to what could very well be lights-out, in many ways that matter, for this young nation of ours.
It is a bitter pill to swallow, all that, but there is a remedy, and it is the DNC Roll Call.
It is wonderfully homemade. It is the hand-sewn quilt that emerges after decades of Pottery Barn chenille throws. It is your grandmother’s favorite soup after years of Olive Garden minestrone. Mics are visible in essentially all of the shots. No one is identified, so each presentation arrives with an If-you-know-you-know decryption key only available to residents: How many people not from the state of New Jersey could identify our governor, Phil Murphy (happily looking hale and hearty) and the significance of where he was standing — in front of Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre, obviously a venue closely associated with the actual king (parallel government) of New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen?
How could you not tear up (I’m tearing up) at the sight of would-be-but-can’t-be voters from the Northern Mariana Islands? The meatpacking plant worker from Nebraska who’s the only reason any of us are having barbecues this weekend, unless you are growing your own cattle? The YMCA-level assortment of essential workers flanking the speaker from Nevada? The polka-dots so bright they can be seen from space from New Hampshire? (Guys, is that wildly gesticulating man your governor?) The beautiful moment with State Representative Derrick Lente from New Mexico?
The seriously most emphatically thumbs-up dude in the world, also from North Carolina? Vibing with “Josh,” the IBEW guy from Ohio and his lament that “it seems like every time working people believe in a Donald Trump promise, they wind up getting screwed”? Remembering those lost in Tulsa in 1921 and not leaving the job to HBO? The two Oregonian kids figuring out how to show off their signs in Oregon? Bob Casey and the “Scranton <3 Joe” sign from Pennsylvania?
And that is just states beginning with the letters N-P. Just wait for the As and the Cs and the Ws! The D! So many other lovely vistas! So many weirdly specific fried shellfish dishes to pitch! So many train platforms and tunnels and bridges and other infrastructure to recommend!
The next three months are going to be a shitshow, likely of epic proportion. It is wonderful how the DNC roll call reminded us, however briefly, that this country is home to hundreds of millions of people proud of where they’re from, doing their best by their families and communities, working hard to protect all of us. It can be easy to forget that, given the current circumstances. But there is no better recent proof that all across this country, we are more alike than we are different than this video: You may not be an immigrant from the Caribbean, like the delegate from New York — but you might be a nurse or a union member. You might not be a meatpacker like the woman from Nebraska — but you might have a lot of giant plastic containers in your garden. You might not have Pete Buttigieg’s L.L. Bean-model good looks, but you maybe have convinced your family to stand like that, all exactly six feet apart in what looks like a set from The Matrix, for your holiday cards. There’s something for absolutely everyone here, and it is an America I am delighted and relieved to know still exists, persists, resists—and votes.