Saturday, September 8, 2012

Comparing Conventions

Finally, both conventions are over and I'm even recovered from my sleep deficit hangover. I was an MSNBC junkie for the two weeks of the conventions. I listened to every speech and every bit of analysis. While granting that I'm biased in favor of the Democrats, I did try to keep an open mind which I do by asking myself - "how would I feel about what I'm hearing if I didn't know which party it was coming from?"

My main conclusion is that Democrats must simply be innately happier people than Republicans. While you got the feeling the invitations to the Republican convention probably resembled a Board of Zoning Appeals notification with Old Business and New Business and a formal Agenda and strict limits on discussion items, you imagine the Democratic announcement as a flyer posted on telephone poles and convenience store doors - "We're Having a Party - Everyone Invited!"

I've heard and read a lot about the Democrats' so-called "enthusiasm gap" but you certainly couldn't prove that by watching the conventions. Charlotte was loud and proud with Dems joyfully roaring out their approval of their party, its positions and its candidate. I heard that Democrats blew away the Republicans in the Twitter war, tweeting thousands more times than Republicans.

Meanwhile, Tampa seemed glum. What excitement Republicans felt was negative....not for something but against something. America is in decline, they told us, and its the fault of  gays and immigrants and Blacks and Hispanics (who mostly all get food stamps, don't you know, wink, wink) and women who dare to want to make their own family planning decisions and question why old white male politicians should be able to order them to have invasive ultrasounds, and wounded soldiers and the mothers of sick kids and union workers and old people who don't have the grace to bow out before going broke so Medicaid  has to step in to pay the nursing home.

I thought one of the best lines of either convention was Michelle Obama saying that if you've walked through the door of opportunity yourself, you don't close it behind you, but instead, reach back to help others through. I would say this is the very heart of Democratic philosophy. By contrast, Republicans remind me of Puritan-Think regarding wealth. The very fact of someone being rich, whether through inheritance or work, is a mark of God's favor. How much better of an endorsement can you have than one from God? Of course, we should make these people our leaders! And, of course, the opposite must be true as well. If you're a poor African-American kid, living in a ghetto and attending a sub-standard school, it probably means God just doesn't like you very much.

Republicans forgot about the wars we've been fighting or are still fighting (and the soldiers who fought them) in favor of brand new wars. The Middle East of the R's appears to be one giant conflagration with the U.S. in the middle of it all. And, hell, throw Russia in there too for good measure! Democrats faced foreign policy head-on. They expressed their appreciation for our military in both words and deeds, in person.

The Democrats showcased their support for abortion rights and gay marriage and immigrant contributions and the goal of allowing everyone to exercise their elemental right to vote while Republicans tip-toed around their extreme positions on these issues in favor of mild-sounding euphemisms. You'd have to actually read their platform to see what they really think. Certainly, you wouldn't find out from their candidates.

Mitt and Ann Romney tried to show their kinder, gentler side and I think within their church and their own Ivory Tower social circle, they probably are kinder and gentler, it's just that their kindness and gentleness wears a little thin the farther from that circle you get. I give them the benefit of the doubt that this is from ignorance rather than deliberation.

The Democrat convention reminded me of how much I love Bill Clinton. And to be honest, there were a few times when the old resentment toward the media and the Democrat establishment and Barack Obama about what they all did to Hillary bubbled up so that I had to forcibly tamp it down. I am a faithful Rachel Maddow viewer now but I only began watching her show within the last year or so and that reluctance was caused by residual anger left over from the Democratic primaries. I still can barely tolerate Ed Shultz or Nancy Pelosi. And, sorry, but I will never adore the Obama branch of the Kennedys again...and that includes Teddy and Caroline. I thought they were motivated by fear of a Clinton dynasty overtaking the Kennedy dynasty....and I still do.

Ah, but this is a different war and my old enemies are now my allies so....

The Democrat speakers blew away the Republican speakers. They made you feel good. Tammy Duckworth  moving forward positively on two prosthetic legs, having lost her real ones in Iraq. The mother ecstatic because her little daughter will not reach her lifetime insurance cap thanks to Obamacare. The young Dream girl, who graduated from her high school as valedictorian at 16 and went on to receive two double majors in college who wants to contribute her talent to "her" country without the terror of never knowing when she might be deported to a place she can't even remember. Auto workers beyond grateful to have their jobs and their dignity back. Positive, uplifting stories.

The Dems seem to have more natural talent for public speaking than the Republicans...or perhaps its just attitude. Maybe you just sound better when you are affirmative rather than dismissive.

There were lots of good speeches and a couple of outstanding ones, including Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama. And Obama himself? After Bill and Michelle set the stage, he drove the point home. We can't go back. Clinton summed up the Romney/Ryan argument best - "we left Obama an awful mess; he hasn't cleaned it up quick enough; put us back in." We'd have to be nuts to buy that argument.

Are we, collectively, nuts? The polls show a neck and neck race so that implies that about half of us are nuts at any given time...it's that word "about" that the kicker, isn't it?