Thursday, July 28, 2016

Clinton's Convention

To compare the Republican party's convention in Cleveland last week and the Democratic party's convention in Philadelphia this week is almost like the proverbial comparison "between apples and oranges." Other than the fact that they were both party events, both designed to nominate candidates for the presidency, they might just as well have taken place in different countries. And in a certain sense they did. 

Despite some ostentatious opposition from the immature extreme left, the Democrats are way more united than the Republicans were. And it has really shown in the quality of the speakers and their consistent messaging, as well as in the audience in the hall, that has seemed for the most part to be actually happy to be there. There have been powerfully moving testimonies about important social issues such as the gun violence that continues to plague our society and powerful witness testimonials to the character of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Religious faith also has been much more on display - and much more naturally and convincingly - at this convention. And, unlike last week when so many political heavies stayed out of sight (or, in the case of Ted Cruz, tried to throw a monkey wrench into the process), the Democratic party's luminaries were largely all there and all spoke eloquently - most especially the President himself and his First Lady. And Bernie Sanders did what he needed to do - and in the process reminded everyone to pay attention to the issues that matter most and not to the inside-the-Beltway stuff that the media likes to focus on so much. And there was some serious effort to reach out to Independents and disaffected Republicans. Michael Bloomberg (a New Yorker who says he knows a con job when he sees one) made the pitch for the Independent vote. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower appealed to those he called "discerning Democrats." Now it was Mayor Bloomberg's turn to make the case for what might be called "discerning Republicans." Meanwhile, for the Democrats themselves, last night's final scene with the President hugging the woman nominated to succeed him spoke volumes about the party's unity and sense of its long-term purpose. 

After last week's strategy of running America down, the Democrats had the much more attractive task of highlighting the greatness of this country, why, for all its real problems and challenges, America remains in so many ways the envy of the world and that famous shining "city on a hill" Ronald Reagan used to like to invoke. It is now up to Hillary Clinton herself to tie it all together tonight, and to make the Democrats' case for how fundamentally transformative this election is going to be.

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