The Democratic convention was uplifting in its look and attitude, but empty of a concrete plan for America’s future, and too often mired in the swamps of 1970’s Viet Nam. The faces were attractive and bright, the smiles wide and genuine, and the talk was of hope and recovery from the militaristic, isolationist, imperialistic, fear-mongering monarchy America once again suffers under. I admire John Kerry as well, because I was in the service during that Southeast Asian “conflict” LBJ lied us into escalating, and I know my fellow Americans DID commit some heinous crimes over there. I remember being proud of him for coming back and daring to say so out loud. But I wanted to hear the nuggets of future goals an optimistic idealist could latch onto, and had to wait until the Republican convention to hear out of the mouth of George W. Bush, himself. And while I know he will never keep faith with any one of them, they were unarticulated asides of aspirations that should have been coming out of John Kerry’s mouth instead.
The Republican convention was somewhat embarrassing, not just because thousands of protesters from all across the country were being arrested (harkening back to the ‘72 Republican convention) and restrained to the point that a judge had to fine the city for their release, or that it was just a drawn-out homage to a “get over it” event that happened years ago at the expense of issues like the economy, the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the environment, and JOBS, but because speakers like Zell Miller –a Republican with a Democrat label that remains in office because he brings home the bacon whatever clothes he wears, and the ever cartoonish, cracked-lipped caricature of Dick Cheney we are always so creeped-out seeing, just oozed pure mean-spiritedness, pettiness, anger and poor policy defensive braying. Even “Ahnold” (a Republican married to a member of the Democrat’s most influential clan Kennedy), who I am a huge fan of, did a greasy faced, pretentious exhortation of clichés and flat-out falsehoods that made one wonder where even Conan the Terminator’s limited acting skills had disappeared to. I was immensely embarrassed for him and, other than twaddle like “Twins”; I’ve never felt that way before. I applaud his rise (with Franco Columbu, another muscle beach import) from humble immigrant beginnings to world-renowned movie idol and governor of California, one of the most socially progressive states in the nation, but his poorly written, and even more poorly delivered harangue rang raucously empty in the lock-step, Stepford delagates' summer sweat-soaked auditorium.
CNN’s, as well as C-SPAN’s coverage repeatedly panned frowning, brooding and bored faces throughout the convention and the fields of flags and metronomic cheers of “flip-flop” rang as hollow as the phony patriotism which has forever been “the last refuge of a scoundrel”. And when George W. Bush finally spoke, from “No Child Left Behind”-one of his poorest funded programs as anyone who knows a teacher or has a child in school knows all too well, to the “war” in Iraq-both his justification for it: WMD’s, terrorist connections, and his oft touted, but unprovided support for both our troops and a democratic (non-puppet) Iraqi government, he lied. That even just a room full of Americans cheered this Orwellian disinformation (up is down, war is peace, hate is love) diatribe was disheartening to any progressive leaning, late blooming, baby boomer.
What has democracy in America been reduced to when one of your only two electable political parties is an affiliation of selfish and self-serving, bold-faced liars, and the other is a party of high ideals but little expectations of those it exists to help? Where do we go as a nation from here? A massive overhaul of our electoral system has to be engineered before capitalism’s greed-driven engine and ethically corruptive legislative meddling turns American democracy into a corporate theocracy, and every “right” it was founded to provide is restricted or reserved for the “fortunate” few. This is our time. History will look back at us and judge our choices and our character by what we do here today. It will say we either saved that bold experiment our founding forefathers undertook, or failed it. VOTE. It’s not just your “right”; it’s your duty. It is your duty to all those who come after to provide the promise your parents left you, and to honor all those who have gone before that made it possible for you to do so.
-alexander graham Now that both the Democratic and Republican national conventions have come to a close, America has a snapshot opportunity to pause and reflect for a moment on their respective sideshows before herding to the polls this November to set the country’s (and thus, the world’s) course for the next four years.