More than 30 Democrats from Idaho are in North Carolina this week for the Democratic National Convention. Sixty-seven-year-old Jim Fletcher is among them. This is his second convention, though he says he’s been involved in politics for more than 40 years. Fletcher works as an administrator at Idaho State University in Pocatello. We caught up with him on his cell phone during a break in the activities in Charlotte.
Q: How has the atmosphere in Charlotte this week compared to that in Denver four years ago?
A: It’s fair to say that in 2008 there was this intense excitement in the air due to the extremely historic nature of the Barack Obama campaign. A lot of people expected maybe a lot of that enthusiasm would have declined this time, but I’m not really sensing it.
Q: A question that is getting asked this week is ‘Is the US better off today than before president Obama took office?’ And a lot of people here in Idaho say it’s not. How about you?
A: Well, I think that’s simply a matter answered by the facts. Four years ago we know we had banks closing, we had the economy in a state of shambles. It was clear we were approaching what seemed like a Great Depression. Quite the opposite is true now. And we’re in the midst of a recovery. We all wish it would be a little bit faster and it’s picking up steam. But it’s clear to me that we’re a lot better than we were four years ago.
Q: When you’re at home in Idaho, you’re on a bit of an island being a Democrat in what is a very red state. How different does it feel this week to be in the midst of so many people who politically think like you do?
A: It’s like anything. Good people are good people. And I can certainly say in Pocatello we have a lot of very good people. And I just love all the folks there at the university. And we’re all united in trying to do our best to move that forward. Here, we’re all united in trying to do our best to move the nomination and the election of President Obama forward. And that will help all of us, including those in Idaho.
Q: It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Mitt Romney will carry Idaho this fall. Does that make you representing the state there in Charlotte seem at all insignificant?
A: No, I would say that at all. I think Idaho has had and continues to have a history of very strong Democrats. These things go in the pendulum swings, one way or another. But we think the winning ideas and the winning program that we have will eventually move Idaho towards a much more two-party, competitive position in the future. Because these are things that will benefit all of us.
Q: Is it frustrating sometimes being a Democrat in Idaho?
A: No, I really haven’t found that. I always think of myself as an American first before I think of myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I believe that good people and good ideas everywhere are part of what makes America special. I love Idaho. I love its beauty. I love its scenery. And I love the people that are there. And we’ve found since we’ve been there that we’ve found it very hospitable and one of the most friendly communities we’ve ever seen.