By Robert J. Garrison
Convention Grade: B-/C+
Day 1 theme: Party Unity
Hello again readers! Last week I recapped the RNC. It was a wild ride full of excitement. This week I’ll be recapping the DNC which is starting off just as wild and as exciting.
Before I get into my recap I must say that the Democrats are just horrible at planning. First off they should have changed the theme after the email scandal broke. Party unity was the last thing on the minds of many at the convention. Another thing they have is a list of speakers for each night on the convention site. There’s only one problem, Elizabeth Warren wasn’t on that first nights list!
Before the convention even began, Wikileaks released emails that were obtained by hackers. These emails showed how some at the DNC tried to tilt the scales in favor of Hillary which caused unrest among the Bernie supporters. These emails played into the narrative that the system was rigged in favor of Hillary and that Bernie was fighting an uphill battle. So with that hanging in the air, the convention atmosphere was tense. As my fellow colleague Matt Johnson wrote about yesterday the convention began with a “Boo!” fest.
The first “Boo!” fest came from the Florida delegation when Debbie Wasserman-Schultz addressed them at a breakfast. She was booed off the stage by her own delegation! It only got worse as the day went on. Bernie Sanders arrived Philadelphia to address his supporters.
The crowd eagerly awaited to hear their leader and to hear what he had to say about the email scandal. They were hoping that the Senator was going to fight and stand up for the voice of the voters. The crowd became very disappointed when Senator Sanders told them that they had to get behind the Hillary/Kaine ticket. The crowd went nuts – responding with a mix of anger and disappointment. You could see the surprise on the Senator’s face as the crowd booed him.
This anger and disappointment carried into the opening night. I mean the crowd even booed the invocation. They booed when the pastor mentioned Hillary’s name. This was just the beginning of a long night. Many speakers were booed when they mentioned the H word (Hillary). Yet the mood slowly started to change the longer the convention went on. Now on to the speakers.
Booker’s speech seemed more of a sermon than a political speech. Sometimes speeches sound one way in an arena and another on TV. This was the case with Booker’s speech. The speech was well received on the floor and electrified the crowd and the tone sounded OK. However on TV, the tone of the speech seemed to come across as angry and nonstop yelling. Yet the content of the speech I thought was good and the message of it really connected with the audience. It was a rousing and inspiring speech that did a lot to start to change the crowds mood.
I must say that the DNC convention is focusing on more of a positive note about America. They are going with the narrative that we don’t need to make America great again, but that it is still a great nation. I do have to say it felt at times that I was watching and hearing a GOP convention. So the democrats are doing a good job with their messaging so far.
This was the heart of Booker’s speech. He focused on love and compassion and how we as a nation must share those virtues with everyone one so we can be united as a country. Yet I did have issue with his point of cynicism. He urged the crowd not to be seduced by cynicism about our politics because it’s a refuge for cowards. I take issue with that statement. I know that the night was about bringing the party together and to temper the hardcore Bernie supporters but they have a right to be cynical, especially after the email scandal! So to call people cowards that feel that way is wrong and comes off a being dismissive of their concerns.
First Lady Michelle Obama
I have to say that this was one of the best speeches of the night and she did more to settle down the crowd’s mood. Even the Bernie people didn’t have the guts or heart to boo the First Lady. Her speech was inspirational and struck the right tone. She was focusing on who we would like to have in the White House – shaping the thoughts and minds of our kids for the next four years.
She then pivoted to Hillary and how she has been a champion for children. She went on to list the accomplishments that Hillary has achieved for children throughout her career, fighting for child healthcare, and fighting for children with disabilities.
The First Lady called her a relentless champion; the right kind of champion that we need as president. The kind of champion that will leave this country better off for our kids. It was a great speech and it stole the show. She ended the speech by telling the crowd
So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.
Great and positive tone that was a strong contrast to the RNC convention message.
I must mention an observation from my colleague Matt Johnson. Not once did Michelle Obama mention the name Donald Trump. Might not seem like a big deal; however, I felt that it was done on purpose.
First off let me say it’s hard to follow-up a great and powerful speech given by a current First Lady. Yet the Senator tried her best. However throughout the speech I couldn’t help but feel as though she was holding back. A lot of people have seen her go after Trump on the campaign trail with Hillary. She is a firebrand and goes after the wrongs she sees with conviction and passion. I didn’t see that in this speech.
What I saw was a focus group politics type of speech. What do I mean by focus group politics? I mean that sometimes candidates vet their words and speeches through a focus group of people to see how they react. They use these reactions to craft the right kind of tone or to use words that trigger emotions with voters. That is what I felt watching Senator Warrens speech.
She stayed even toned and spoken softly throughout her address. She didn’t ooze passion or convection because her tone never changed. There was no cadence to her voice during the speech. Also since I studied anthropology, a career that I was going to go into before God called me into ministry, I could tell by her body language and face that she was holding back. You could see that she wanted to turn into the firebrand that most are used to seeing but she didn’t and stayed even keel. For me because of her holding back, the speech was boring, lacked passion, and came off as just contrived words.
Sadly this speech was anti-climatic because we heard a preview of it earlier that day. What can I say about this speech? My heart just doesn’t even want to address the speech because he chose party over principles. HE SOLD OUT! He abandoned the voice of the voters, his supporters, and the fight against the corruption and rigging of the electoral process.
I mean the emails proved they put their fingers on the scale to favor Hillary. This proved what Senator and his supporters had been saying throughout the primaries and caucuses. Instead of standing up and running with this story, the Senator just rolled over and basically said “It’s OK. Next time will be different!” The Senator tried to ease the hurt that the supporters where feeling after he sold them out by talking about the advancement of progressive ideals.
They got Debbie Wasserman-Shultz fired from leading the DNC. They also got the a reduction in the number of super delegates (why even have them at all!?!?!?). Last but not least, the Bernie supporters got the most progressive party platform ever passed by the Democratic party. Which I have to say, who gives a rip! For the most part, no candidate ever runs on the party platform anyway! Party platforms are made to give a bone to the fringe parts of the party.
Throughout the Senator’s speech, the media showed shots of Bernie supporters crying because they felt the pain of losing a hard-fought passionate battle for their candidate. However, I also think they were crying because they saw a man who campaigned against corruption in politics, against the rigging of systems, against rabble-rousers, and against big money in politics, but then turned around and endorsed the very person that embodies all those things. They witnessed a man who they believed turned against his words and endorsed Hillary. They witnessed a man who chose party of principles.
WE witnessed the death of free and open process of voting for a person that WE wanted. Instead we are left with what the ELITES want, voters be damned! I’m not even a Bernie supporter or liberal (mind you I’m not voting for Trump either), but it was still painful to watch this speech. What was even more painful, was that even after the emails showed that the party leadership did their best to effect the outcome, no one stood up and defended the voter or the process in which their voices are heard! Last night a small part of America died; last night the Democratic party became a Banana Republic!
Robert J. Garrison is a political and religious contributor for The Systems Scientist
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