Monday, August 02, 2004

Democratic Convention

The Democratic Convention has begun and I have already missed President Carter’s speech. I watched a little of the post speech analysis and a brief interview with Carter. Carter touched on the issue of America’s unilateral diplomacy in the world, and a need for a leader who can build coalitions. Then they had a fellow soldier from Vietnam give a rousing speech in support of Kerry. Finally, it was Clinton, enumerating all of Kerry’s leadership qualities and listing all of the Republican’s pro-ruling class measures.

It was a bit of a let down. I was watching PBS however, and when I switched to CBS I found the crowd noise was much louder. CBS, not surprisingly, either has better broadcasting equipment, or PBS uses a subdued broadcast from their engineering booth.

The democrats need someone electric to speak, someone who can energize the crowd. After all, the party conventions are just like dentist conventions- a lot of drinking, partying, an occasional bad musical act, and then the coronation.

I had hopes that Bill Clinton would energize the crowd. I couldn’t get an accurate sense of how effective his speech was, but it seems to me they should have saved him for the last night. The crowd response seemed good, so far it just seems like a series of Democratic Party stars trotting out to give their standard hooray for Kerry speeches.

7/27/04

I catch the end of the Howard Dean speech, and it seems a little flat. “We succeeded in reenergizing the party,” blah blah. The Democrats seems to be hammering affordable health care. Unless we get a national health care system I can’t see it happening. Too bad that many of the good policy points that Dean endorsed are not going to be adopted.

Barak Obama’s speech gave some real excitement to the crowd and struck the right chord. While he was a much more animated and interesting speaker, the substance of his speech was another Land of opportunity-Democrates as party of the people speech. I wonder sometimes. I wonder what real benefits the lower income working class family will gain from the election of the Democrats. We will see. I can guess at least we will get a more progressive income tax, that would at least be a small victory.

But my comments up to this point have been superficial, because the content of the speeches at the conventions is superficial. Its all just a lead up to the coronation night. There is very little dissent within the party any longer. The methods of selecting the candidates has changed enormously over the years. There is no doubt in the result, and there is no interparty fighting about who will speak and when. I remember Jerry Brown making a huge wave in 1988 over being allowed to speak. He brought the issue of campaign finance reform to the forefront of the political conscience before it became a more prominent issue. It is still not addressed in any larger sense, because neither party has much of a stake in doing it. Individual politicians don’t see it as in there interests to attack the current system of campaign contributions. Its hard to argue with them.

But this is off the subject. You will not hear divisive issues like this brought to the floor of the convention any longer. The event is a pep rally now, and the obvious fear is that democracy loses. In November, I don’t see much point in voting for Kerry in Texas. Texas is not in play.

I thought it was a bright move to get Ron Reagan to come address the convention on stem-cell research. Many moderate Republicans are annoyed with Bush’s affiliation with the religious right and his stupid positions on matters of scientific research. Ron Reagan’s presence was both an invitation to the Republican moderate, and a humane appeal to the voters on the potential medical benefits of the research. Many Republicans voting in the suburbs did not vote for Jerry Falwell’s science policy when they cast their vote in 2000.

All in all, it was another somewhat dull night. I wonder if there will be anything chewy tomorrow night.

Surreal moment of the evening: Dean finishes his speech, cue “We are family.”

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