Waunakee resident David Boetcher served as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention last week, selecting former president Joe Biden as the party’s nominee in the upcoming election.
But the experience proved different than that of 2012, when Boetcher last served as delegate.
“By being virtual, there was a good and a bad element to it,” said the 56-year-old Army veteran. “The bad element was that you couldn’t see the participants a lot. The speaker would be on there, but there were so many people in the Zoom call or the live feed who you couldn’t interact with.”
Boetcher said that limited video feed prevented speakers from being able to read their audience, which may have contributed to some of the speeches falling flat at the convention.
For them, the virtual format presented a challenge to motivating state delegations.
“It was worse in the sense that you couldn’t physically be there,” Boetcher said. “It’s hard to talk to people without being able to see how the audience reacts, to give you an idea of how they feel about it and to hear those more personal stories of individual people from their area.”
On the other hand, conducting the event virtually allowed delegates to take part in more of the program than they would have been able to at a traditional convention, Boetcher said.
“The advantage was the fact that you could get to so many events compared to being there in-person,” Boetcher said. “You could bring up the live feed on one (session), and the second it was over, you were at the next one already. By doing that, you were able to attend a lot more.”
Boetcher took advantage of the opportunity to participate in as much of the program as possible.
For the second night of the convention, he helped coordinate a Veterans and Military Families Council meeting that featured former Navy pilot and presidential advisor Jan Donatelli.
More than a thousand viewers attended.
“It was a livestream where the panelists could talk to each other and the audience,” Boetcher said. “And due to the fact we had so many people signing up for it, all we could really do was let our speakers speak. No Zoom call could handle it.”
Yet Boetcher said his favorite part of the convention was a daily Zoom party held for members of his delegation. There, he could meet one-on-one with Wisconsin’s elected representatives.
“The Wisconsin delegation had an end-of-the-day party on Zoom every night that was hosted by the Wisconsin VPW,” Boetcher said. “Because of that, you were able to sit there and talk with Evers, Pocan or Baldwin… And it actually gave you more of a chance to talk as individuals.”
Following the convention, Boetcher said he would consider serving as delegate again in the future.
“It would be nice if they held it in Milwaukee again,” Boetcher said. “I’m guessing there will be a push when it comes time to make that decision, to say, ‘Why not let Milwaukee hold it again?’ But we’ll see. If it was held in Milwaukee, that’d be great. I would try to help.”
Like other delegates, Boetcher will have the next four years to decide.