Friday September 7, 2012

When Ruth Drysdale voted for Barack Obama in 2008, there was some poetic justice.

It was the first time she voted in an American election since coming to the U.S. from South Africa in 1980. Obama made an impression on her after his appearance at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, especially since she saw a land that practiced a racial segregation against whites, called apartheid.

"For a South African woman to vote for the first African American president, that really meant something," Drysdale said. "Politics have always fascinated me, and I was fascinated that in a country like America, a black man could become president."

At a Democratic National Convention viewing party in Lenox, the Stockbridge resident watched as the now-President Obama graciously accepted the Democratic Party nomination at the convention's closing night.

"You didn't elect me to hear what you wanted to hear, you elected me to hear me tell you the truth," Obama said during the convention, televised from the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The announcement to formally accept the nomination was met with boisterous applause by those in the audience at the convention, and an equal excitement -- albeit more subdued -- at viewing parties throughout the Berkshires.

At the viewing party in Lee, 296 Housatonic St., a semi-circle of local Democrats glued themselves to the screen as Vice President Joe Biden took to the podium.

The party was mostly orchestrated and emceed by Lenox resident Maggie Sadoway.

"We definitely inspire each other, inform each other and keep track of each other," she said. "I feel that it's so important to get Obama re-elected."

Most of the women touted buttons that read "Women for Obama."

"We have a lot of work ahead of us," said South Lee resident Elisa Mishory. "There's a joy in us coming together with a shared vision for America, and for the future."

Another party in Pittsfield, equal in size of about 20 people, took place at Carole Ireland's home, 106 Stratford Ave. Ireland, a volunteer for the Obama campaign, agreed to host the party after being asked by another volunteer.

"I looked at both conventions, and this convention was so much more diverse and vibrant," Ireland said.

"The choice is so clear," Lee resident Wren Bernstein added on.

During Obama's speech, he made the occasional reference to his Republican opponent, candidate Mitt Romney, saying the party is asking for votes without revealing much of their plan.

"It's not that I'm against the Republicans as much as it is that I'm not sure how their ideas will be beneficial for the American public," said Pittsfield resident Eric Lamet, an attendee at Ireland's party.

For Republicans viewing the convention this week, they were less than moved.

"[Obama] talks a lot about jobs, but the only job I see coming is him bankrupting the country," said Jim Bronson, chairman of the Berkshire County Republicans Association.

With both parties having wrapped up their conventions -- the Republican National Convention was held last week in Tampa, Fla. -- both candidates will now make their candidacy for the Nov. 6 election.

"[The Democratic National Convention] laid out all the accomplishments of the administration, and Obama said very clearly what we have to do," said Mary O'Brien, a retired Middle District Register of Deeds and a member of the Democratic State Committee. "He's laid out the past, present and the future."