Two psychologists were among the throngs of delegates leading the charge for Bush/Cheney or Gore/Lieberman at the national political party conventions held in August.
Frank Biasco, EdD, a private practitioner and associate professor of psychology at the University of West Florida, served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia for the first congressional district of Florida, and Nancy Chiswick, PhD, a practitioner at Child, Adult and Family Psychological Center, a group practice in State College, Pa., served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles for her state's fifth congressional district.
While it was the first time the psychologists had been to a national political convention, the paths that led them there couldn't be more different. For Biasco, the experience capped off nearly 20 years of political involvement and public service in Florida. For Chiswick, the convention marked her first foray into politics.
At 72, Biasco is chair of Florida's First Congressional District Republican Party, writes a regular column for four weekly newspapers, publishes a GOP political newsletter and does local political polling that he posts on the Internet for the news media. His prominence in Florida political circles helped earn him a position as one of Florida's 69 delegates, along with Gov. Jeb Bush (RFla.), brother of the Republican presidential candidate.
For Chiswick, becoming a delegate was "like winning the lottery," she says. A series of serendipitous events paired with three weeks of intense signature gathering in a dense Republican district resulted in Chiswick being elected as a delegate for Bill Bradley.
A typical convention day, say Chiswick and Biasco, was jam-packed with state caucus meetings, speeches by members of Congress and state leaders, and sessions on topics such as health care and education--all of which built up to the day's climax, speakers such as Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Caroline Kennedy and followed by fund-raising parties and dinners.
The stimulation was nonstop, they say, but Chiswick was most impressed by the commotion of the convention floor.
"I was so proud to be there when I first walked on to the floor," she says. "I remember staying up late in 1960, even though it was a school night, to see Kennedy nominated, and this was exactly as that had looked--just exhilarating."
A convention highlight for Chiswick was meeting Tipper Gore at a session for working women, and for Biasco, it was seeing Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader kicked off the "delegates-only" convention floor.
Chiswick hopes to have the experience again and is now regularly participating in Democratic Party activities. Biasco, who will continue support the Republican Party in Florida by attending rallies and promoting local Republican candidates, hasn't decided if he'll try to attend another convention.
"It all depends," he laughs. "Maybe someone else should have the opportunity, I am very satisfied to have been to at least one."