Friday, September 07, 2012

Conventionally Speaking

I watched all of both the Republican and Democratic Conventions and found both of them informative, fascinating and revealing.  I watched them on C-SPAN so I wouldn’t be harangued by in-the-moment media analysis or irritated with commercials.  Then, over the several nights of both events, I watched analysis on PBS and the Cable Big Three (MSNBC, CNN and FOX).  I no longer pay any attention to the Big Three Broadcast networks that pay nothing to broadcast (and never have) yet still pay no attention to their civic obligations as massive media institutions; screw ‘em, let them play football while Rome burns.

I’m saddened to learn that convention viewership was low and that by and large, Republicans/Conservatives and Democrats each watched their own conventions but not each other’s.  I can only hope the debates will inspire greater and more bipartisan viewership.

And it’s too bad more people didn’t watch, because the differences between the two conventions were stark and very important.

The Republicans were stiff; many of the speakers were more politically self-serving than anything else; the delegation was (as usual) glaringly Caucasian; and the messages were clear.  Barack Obama is the most terrible, dangerous thing to ever happen to America and if Romney/Ryan win, they will undo as much Obama policy as they can and run the country like a corporation.  They made obvious their devotion to Norman Rockwell-like families and marriage; their belief in having as little government as possible doing as little as possible (except where women’s autonomy is concerned, of course); talked endlessly about God and taxes; and showed nothing but contempt for social issues, social programs and the poor – to the very minimal extent they addressed them at all.  They also outright lied about several matters, then afterwards announced they “would not allow this campaign to be controlled by fact-checkers.”  That’s true chutzpah.

In contrast, the Democrats produced a much more lively show.  The music was hotter, the speakers were numerous, diverse, and largely fired up and ready to go.  The delegation was a greatly mixed, cheerful crowd, with many people in outrageously fun get-ups.  But they weren’t there to play.  The primary topic of discourse was the Man of the Hour: Barack Obama.  There was much commentary from speakers about what he’d accomplished (Obamacare, the auto-bailout, ending the war in Iraq, getting bin Laden, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” etc.) and an obvious understanding that much more needs to be done, on the economic front especially.  But as Bill Clinton accurately observed, “No president, not me, not any of my predecessors, could have cleaned up the mess that was left for him in just four years.”

What was most heartening about the Democrats was what I can only describe as their humanity – a sensibility I sure didn’t feel from the let-them-eat-rice & beans GOP.  The Dems talked about community and citizenship and the fact that we’re all in this together.  They emphasized that while government should not be involved in everything, there are good and important things government can and should do.  They repeatedly referenced women’s rights, from pay equity to complete control of our health care, including reproductive freedom.  There were several gay speakers and broad support throughout the hall for GLBT rights, including marriage.  They talked about the fairness of The Dream Act, new energy initiatives, science, climate change and the enormous importance of affordable education and retraining working people whose skills are outdated.  There was assurance that the very young, the elderly, the disabled, and, singularly, returning veterans, would be protected and supported.  The said a “civilized society” looks forward, moves forward, works cooperatively and doesn’t leave anyone hanging out to dry.

Neither party was coy or closed about its values, priorities, positions or beliefs.  They couldn’t be more clear in their differences about who and what they want to serve.  Both parties also had interesting omissions in their statements.  The Republicans in general and Romney in particular said nothing about the Afghanistan War, the troops, or his party’s platform!  The Democrats didn’t mention the Stimulus Package during the president’s first two years.  The Democrats also didn’t say outright that a corporation isn’t a person and a country isn’t a corporation and a president isn’t a CEO and the Cabinet is not a Board of Directors.  The Republicans didn’t say a word about civil service, service, which is what government is about – service and leadership.

I’ve often been upset with Barack Obama over the past few years.  Even allowing for the obstructionism and outright hatred he was faced with from Day One, I thought he was at times too eager to cooperate and compromise with a Disloyal Opposition that was more dedicated to making him a one-term failure than they were in helping the country and its people.  They see the world – and the country – as a business deal.  That’s a very bad thing.

I appreciate that many people have lost faith in the political process entirely, who think that both sides, all sides, are corrupt and dishonest and not worth getting out of bed to vote for.  I don’t deny that political chicanery abounds.  But if you’d seen these two conventions, you would know that the Republicans have officially become right-wing extremists controlled by the Tea Party fringe, and the Democrats, however disjointed and disorganized they are at times, are still the party who cares about everyday people.  To them, the “bottom line” is not the whole story.  So please listen, please watch – and please vote.

1 comment:

Paulette Esposito said...

Strikingly beautiful blog post! Right on the money....I will pass it on.