Thursday, September 6, 2012

Two Conventions

No, I don't mean the Republicans last week and the Democrats this week. I mean the two simultaneous Democratic Conventions I feel I have been watching the past two nights.
On the one hand, there is the convnetion I tuned in to see - that of the Democratic Party I grew up with, the party of the "Middle Class" and working people, talking back to the proponents of government of, b y, and for the 1%. Lots of speakers stood up representing that party - among them Governor Deval Patricj (representing Massachussets after Romney), Mayor Julian Castro (Texan Latino rising star and presumptive antidote to Marco Rubio), Rist Lady Michell Obama, and President Bill Clinton. There was even a Catholic Sister - one of the so-called "Nuns on the Bus" - who gave a surprisingly effective speech (and might well have made a better warm-up act for Bill Cinton than  Elizabeth Warren did).
But then there was that other convention of what might almost have been another party. There were times - too many times - when I felt the channel had changed itself somehow and was covering a NOW convention. Certianly it sounded at times as if the party was about nothing but abortion (and contraception). One media commentator suggested we were actually watching a base-oriented conventionf rom 7:00 to 10:00 and then a more mainstream-oriented convention after 10. Even then the abortion-obsessed anti-life agenda usually got itself an obligatory endorsement even from most of the after-10 speakers.
The conspicuous exception was Bill Clinton. Having successfully taught an earlier generaiton of Democrats how to reconnect with the mainstream (and thus win elections), he apparently was trying to do the same again last night. Unless I missed something, I don't think that the two liberal pseudo sacrametns of abortion and contraception were evenmentioned by him.
The dangerous dichotomy between two simultaneous conventions of two souls cohabiting the same party's body showed up in the unexpected platform battle. Back when conventions actually mattered, platform battles made much more sense. Now that conventions ar ejust party commercials, platforms are pretty pointless. A platform battle is at most an enetrtainign sideshow - but in this case at least a revealign one nonetheless. The presenting problem was that a change had been engineered replaacing the platform's traditional language about Jerusalem as Israel's capital and p[eople's God-given potential. People don't normally pay much attention to platform language - except when someone deliberately changes it! So the radical changes in the platform rightly got noticed - and attacked. Apparently, the President himself had to get involved to fix things and restore the traditional language. It could have easily ended there - an embarassing episode soon to be forgotten. But the diehard supporters of the change now being undone were determined to create an embarassing spectacle, which they did in a voice vote, forcing the Chair to make a parliamentary ruling that contradicted what everyone in the hall - and watching on TV - had heard.
As Bill Clinton illustrated in his speech, the path to victory lies in reviving Americna community, not in the niche markets of secularist identity politics. So, in which  of these two directions will the President propose to take American tonight?

1 comment:

  1. You really hit it with this... I did not watch the first night, I only read about it. And when I read about it, it was either praised in an over the top manner, or it was dragged through the mud in an equally poor way.

    I watched the second night and felt good about it, but with feelings lurking about the events of night one...

    Thanks for elucidating all of this here. A lack of integrity means that something won't hold. I don't like that.