What a great way to kick things off! The party is united in a way that I have never seen. They are toting a powerful internationalist, centrist platform that points out all the ways that the Bush administration has divided and weakened America. Kerry’s call against Bush-bashing was heeded exceptionally well. Tonight’s speakers instead focused on the philosophical differences between both the parties and their candidates.
All in all the Democratic Party presented America with a portrait of itself as a wise, strong and unified force that wants to fix what’s been done to this country over the past four years.
Here are my running notes:
The first thing you notice when you watch these political conventions is the crowd. It’s amazing how diverse this crowd is. Diverse, dressed down and revved up for victory. The people at this convention are people like you and me. Democrats also showed that they can get down! People were excitedly dancing and singing throughout the entire evening.
Vice President Gore:
I love his snidely funny self-deprecation when it comes to the coup d'etat of the 2000 election. His aw shucks, “I love this country" routine is endearing and disguises an angrily progressive side that has been coming out in fierce arguments lately. Tonight he focused on the failure in 2000 and then closedthe book on it forever.
He first pauses to make two points 1. “Every vote counts” 2. “What happens in a Presidential election matters, a lot.” It matters to us and our families. He’s basically saying, “Look at me and remember what happened in 2000.” Look at where we are now compared to where we were. We need to come together as One Nation, One People to move forward.
Next he addresses those that voted for Bush in 2000. “Ask yourself, When you voted for Bush, did you expect all of things that have happened over these four long years to occur? Look at the economy, our national security, racial equality, our environmental quality, and the education of our children. What happened to “compassionate conservatism”?”
Next he calls on Nader voters to realize there are profound and essential differences between the Dems & Repubs.
The closure of his speech with its near apology and thanks to Clinton combined with he and Tipper’s kiss, that smartly mocks the one they gave each other after his acceptance speech, closes the door on the heartbreak of 2000. It sets the tone of a new Democratic party, ready to overcome obstacles and unafraid to redefine itself as a party. It also sets the tone for the themes to come, a stronger, wiser, more united America.
Carter’s stoic, internationalist speech said everything that needed to be said about the Bush administration’s foreign policy. Let’s not forget that President Carter is a Nobel prize-winning human rights activist and as such he travels the world doing his good work. His comments lead one to believe that he has spoken personally to global leaders who feel alienated by this policy. It’s always nice to see elder statesman Carter speak, he conveys a sense of wisdom, strength and a kind of old-school American honor not seen everyday in our present nation.
It was so smart to cast him against type in tonight’s speech. Instead of focusing solely on his work towards global peace, he pointed out his years of Navy service. Years spent under the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower, presidents, he points out, that honorably served their country. As a result, they knew that military engagement was something to be used with restraint and judgment, and with a clear sense of mission. He slyly points to Bush’s dubious record of military service and shows that it makes him a weak military leader.
His jab against Bush disguised as praise for John Kerry was brutal, “ our Democratic Party is led by another naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty and he served with honor and distinction.” Did you hear that America?? HE SHOWED UP. Unlike our current President who was playing water polo in the pool of luxury apartments with stewardesses and other millionaire playboys.
President Bill Clinton:
President Clinton proved again tonight that he is the most important politician of our times. He is a masterful orator, a brilliant tactician, eloquent, persuasive, and deeply passionate about the future of this nation and its citizens. He gave a perfect speech tonight clearly drafting out the major philosophical difference between the Democratic Party and the GOP.
This passage just nails it so perfectly:
“Democrats and Republicans have very different and honestly held ideas on the choices we should make, rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home and how we should play our role in the world. Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities and more global cooperation, acting alone only when we must.
We think the role of government is to give people the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people, their people, in a world which we act unilaterally when we can and cooperate when we must.
They think the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like healthcare and retirement security. Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all wanted to be one nation, strong in the fight against terror. The president had a great opportunity to bring us together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in common cause against terror.
Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice: to use the moment of unity to push America too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors finished their jobs, but in withdrawing support for the Climate Change Treaty, the International Court for war criminals, the ABM treaty and even the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.”
He clearly shows just how divisive the Bush presidency has been in our own country while also keenly showing the difference between the two parties. He’s saying that although we are in the midst of one of the most challenging moments in American history we also have an opportunity to unite and move to a progressive future. One in which all Americans, regardless of economic status, can participate.
My party has rung the bell tonight, both as a warning of the imminent danger that the Bush administration poses to our nation and as a rallying call for us to come together. In the words of President Carter, “Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth will define America’s role in the world.
At stake is nothing less than our nation’s soul. In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.”
I hope to God he is right. The alternative, for me, is unfathomable.