Convention Wrap-Up


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.


  1. Ascend of Asheville says:

    The true test will be between now and the first debate. If Obama goes into that debate having morphed into the over-coached and tepid Gore model, all is lost, because the SueTwos of the world will have been proven correct.

    If however, Obama walks into the first debate like a man who is unafraid of, or at least comfortable with the chances he knows he must take, and does not flinch when challenged, as he will be by moderators and his opponent, then we will know that there is something real there. He needs to be out on that edge of fearlessness that is almost crazy, but where true valor lives.

    A lot of it unfortunately has to do with whether he and his advisers have a calculus that sees them losing some moderates and still winning. The Convention is all about the base. If that is enough, then the rest is just a matter of taking it to the opposition in a hail storm of pride and attitude.

    But, the saying “Yes We Cave” is still rollicking about under my skin, and I worry that Obama, regardless of the strength of his convictions, can’t override the murmuring death speak of those damned fool advisers.

    The man let Rahm Emanuel talk him out of fighting the good fight over Guantanamo. Had he not listened to Rahm at that point, and still gotten Osama Bin Laden, having also closed Gitmo and shown the world we are still willing to act like a civilized country in at least some areas, we would not be hanging on whether Obama can stay in character or not.

    I have a lot of hope that the President can be himself and still win. Of course, I also have a lot of hope that I will win the lottery and that Scarlet Johansson and Natalie Portman want to make a man sandwich out of me.

    Truthfully, I would rather see Obama be brave in the attempt and lose, than to fall back into some technical game and eek out a win on points. This needs to be decisive to have any lasting value at all.

  2. TJ says:

    I watched a late night replay of NH today. I was a little disappointed that it was a repeat of the convention speech. Of course, maybe that is how it is done. I DO agree with you J, that he can “be himself” (whatever that means in the realm of prepared speeches).

    ALternately, listening to Romney, I got a worse headache than when my 10 yo uses her nail polish in her room with the door closed. His words felt suffocating, REALLY, and, the worst part? As I watched him step up, he has aire of superiority or obnoxiousness, I am not sure which, where he just lights up when people are cheering. Doesn’t encourage them to calm down so he can speak, he just stands there with a stupid grin on his face, and lets them clap til it stops. That worries me, if that is really to feed his ego, because, it is not about “the people,” it is about “looking good.” His “plan” to make things better is build a stronger military, and, going after that oil, and, get more from the pipeline folks just protested about. Now, THAT’S listening to the people.

    He scares me. The only bright side is that the applause was at times less than enthusiastic. I hope I read that right. But if Mitt has his way, we will BUILD military strength, and drain more oil from the ground, give more permits for drilling, etc. But, of course, it’s all good. After all, this is “God’s country.”

    BTW, J., it may be old news now, but, I still have that video of the protest, and, can’t figure out how to get it off my iPhone. Wanna help?

  3. RHS says:

    I don’t think that debates really make a huge difference. People see what they want to see in them and they just have their preconceived notions confirmed. This is probably even more true in the current, hyper polarized environment we are in. The 20,000 people in Ohio who right now seem likely to decide this election will probably be watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” anyway.

    OK. That last comment was snide and an exaggeration. But if you look back at the modern history of the debates few have changed much and most have just reenforced the overall trajectory of the race. Probably the most famous moment of any of them was Lloyd Bensten’s “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” slap at Dan Quayle and that was a VP debate. It was a devastating moment and one still quoted and referenced today, but the Bush/Quayle ticket went on to carry 40 states.

  4. Ascend of Asheville says:

    I think TJ, that you have hit on something important.

    That “stand there and take it all in” aspect of Romney isn’t all ego. It’s about enjoying a moment that will not last. He’s a smart man. He’s aware of what his current circumstances have cost, and he knows with a high degree of certainty that he will not get another chance to be where he is now.

    I’m excited to see that happen, because usually it doesn’t until much later. You saw it in John McCain towards the end of the campaign in 2008. He knew he was going to lose, and lose decisively, and his last few appearances were much more about enjoying the company of the faithful than in getting anything done.

    If Romney is already to the point of stopping and smelling the love in the room instead of focusing on the next hill in front of him it means that he has data that we don’t but Obama probably does that has his chances at slim to none.

    Of course, he may be milking the applause to appear confident and heroic. (The best way to look like a hero is to have a hero’s parade, real heroics don’t usually look like much.) but I have not seen that he has much theater in him.