Fire the usual consultants.
This is a Democratic National Convention and party that Hayden Rogers, Patsy Keever and other Democratic candidates have to embrace or run away from. Their party has left them no alternative. The Democratic Party, too often halting in giving voice to what it believes, too often delivering a calculated message from the head instead of one from the heart, seems finally to have found its voice. Unapologetic. Unashamed. Inclusive. Building Ladders of Opportunity. We’re all in this together. Fired up. Ready to go.
Speakers here at the Charlotte convention pulled no punches in advocating a progressive, populist vision. In his acceptance speech, the president directly challenged the every rugged individual for himself America peddled by Republicans, declaring that:
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together…
In dismantling the Romney-Ryan ticket’s more-of-the-same economic vaporware, President Bill Clinton invoked the words of another former president: “There you go again.” But the unstated, overarching message Democrats at this convention are sending to their political opponents is a combative one that evokes the words of yet another — and conspicuously absent — former Republican president: “Bring it on.”
Do conservatives want to turn the Affordable Care Act into an epithet, and take away its protections from our children and the infirm? Bring it on. Want to turn progressive into an epithet as they did with liberal? Bring it on. Want to fight a war for control of our women’s lives and bodies? Bring it on. Want to make support for marriage equality into a political curse? Bring it on. Want to turn greed and pride from Deadly Sins into public virtues? Bring it on. Want to corrupt Jesus’ “do unto others” (Luke 6:31) and turn it into investor advice? Want to use the Bible as a weapon for condemning rather than for loving your neighbors? This Democratic Party convention tells its opponents, chew on some New Testament, pal.
Democrats have been accused for years of having no message, of standing for nothing except a laundry list of policies, while Republicans could tell you what they stood for in a few, short words. But this week we heard a more muscular, more aggressive message than we are accustomed to from Democrats, and well past due. Thus, if Democratic candidates hope to win their races by running defensive campaigns, this year that looks like a losing proposition, one out of step with the direction the party mapped out in Charlotte.
Friends from California observed that there was more diversity in just their delegation than in the whole of the RNC convention. Half the DNC delegates were women. Six-hundred fifty delegates were 35 years-old and younger. After the Obama speech, a volunteer on the street offered that she was stunned at the diversity represented in Charlotte. I recalled the string of Sikh men in colorful turbans standing in line inside the arena. By contrast, the RNC convention represented the narrowest, whitest slice of the American pie.
That’s a demographic with a long past, but standing alone, not much of a future.