CHARLOTTE – A block from the Charlotte Convention Center is a large open field with a stage that features two PAs and three convention staffers. It's part of what convention organizers are calling the "free speech activities" at Democratic National Convention Center. Parties interested in using had to register months ago online for a 30 minute block of speaking time. When I walked by on my way through the surprisingly lax security gauntlet there was a man from Florida yelling about Islam, Israel, and Gays.
I didn't heed that much attention to what he was saying because it was mostly Pam Gellerish nonsense about how America is falling to Sharia Law. I was mostly struck by the fact that this man was screaming his head off to a completely empty field while just nearby a large Occupy protest march was going on. The close proximity of the demonstrations to the actual event is striking, too. Nothing like this occurred in Tampa during the Republican National Convention.
This convention is much more open than RNC.
The security is not nearly as oppressive and the protests are abundant. Yes, there is still an epic security fence that cuts off the areas around the convention facilities but it's not as difficult to pass through. When you initially enter the Convention Center you don't even go through metal detectors and they only scan some of your bags, if at all.
Perhaps, it's the poor organization and planning. The National Journal quoted one convention official as saying that compared to the "military" like convention in Tampa this one is like a "Rube Goldberg machine…the wheels keep falling off, and we have to keep reaching for the duct tape to put things back together."
It's still early and things could tighten up significantly before Obama speaks on Thursday but for now this entire affair is shockingly accessible for a modern national political convention.