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A Personal Perspective on the 2012 Democratic Convention – Green Dragon
Sep 052012

Okay, here’s the thing about this Democratic National Convention, in my view.

Rallies can be great, but there’s a body-level thing that happens in humans when involved with a mob swept with enthusiasm…which can be good or bad, depending.

So I try to step back from the emotional surges that come with cadences of speeches and roaring crowd approval: as a speaker, I know how to make those things happen, and though when I do, I do it because I believe what I’m saying, I know that there are people who DON’T believe what they say who can nonetheless trigger those responses.

But independent of that, this convention has been a more full-throated endorsement of what this country is supposed to be than I have heard in my lifetime at a political convention. More than the 2008 DNC, when the idea of a Democrat as competitive was much more tentative and speakers had to be more gingerly.

Physics help me, I’m a Democrat. It’s a road that can be hapless and frustrating and throw-your-hands-in-the-air exasperating. More than once it has led to downright despair, as I’ve watched the slow-motion nightmare that Reagan ushered us into.

It got so very dark, under Bush. Kafka, wrapped in Orwell, sold by Goebbels. Hard to watch. Hard to bear.

But I’m a Democrat. I’m a sucker for optimism.

That Rosie-the-Riveter-We-Can-Do-It thing? Can’t help it: I believe it. I can’t help but believe in the City on the Hill. I love it too much to give it up.

So after the despair, I’m soon back at it. And finally, crazy as the Orcs have become—and yes, let’s start calling them Orcs, shall we?—the Democratic Congressional sweep in 2006 felt like light on the horizon; the election of Barack Obama, like sunrise at last.

Now, in the light of day, beset by Orcs who can no longer hide how ugly they are under darkness, Democratic politicians don’t have to whisper about what they stand for, the way they did in the Clinton years because they thought the whole country had flipped to the right. They don’t have to soft-pedal their caring about the poor and the disenfranchised. They don’t have to pretend free markets are the Magical Fairy Dust of Prosperity.

So when I listen to Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton speak at this convention, and they speak about heart and love and hope and future and mutual responsibility and inclusiveness and good-paying jobs and fairness to women and minorities and gay people—and basing policies on some goddamned FACTS for a change—they’re the words I’ve wanted to hear from people in a position to do something about it since the bitter, disillusioned years of the late 1970s.

We’re better than the small, mean people our opposition wants us all to be.

We’re the United States of America.

What we’re supposed to be doing here is making this joint match what we thought that meant when we were kids and they first told us those glittering, sanitized stories about Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln. The way Dr. King invoked the mountaintop.

Nobody at this convention is apologizing for anything any more. No one at this convention is weaseling around what we stand for.

Which is Justice.

And Reason.

And Responsibility to the Future: environmentally, economically, militarily, diplomatically, educationally, scientifically, technologically, culturally.

We stand for Good.

And damn, it’s good to hear it ringing from the Big Podium, at last.

At publication, the Dragon was MOVED

  4 Responses to “A Personal Perspective on the 2012 Democratic Convention”

  1. “We’re better than the small, mean people our opposition wants us all to be.”

    Yes! So far the Republican Regressives that are running their party are HORRIBLE painters, actors, and singers! They’ve painted Barack Obama as a baby-eating, country-hating gargoyle, which is a far cry from the TRUTH of his being!

    They’re acting every time they give a speech, and Willard the Lyin’ King and Lyin’ Paul Ryan are so bad at it they wouldn’t make it through auditions for a junior high theater production!

    Singing —- don’t know what Ryan sounds like, but Mitt sounds like an off-key gutted goose!

    I’m happy to see and hear people speaking these things outloud and in front of millions of people. I hope they speak out more and that their words resonate throughout the country!

  2. Well….. Okay. It’s time for me to, maybe, grow up- politically, at last. I can’t forget that Clinton signed “free trade” agreements that set off the great rush to the bottom for American workers, and it’s hard for me to forget that Obama continues to order the deaths of people, including innocent bystanders, by means of what can only be called a “because we can” process- BUT, faced with such a stark choice, between (as you say) the America that we were told about as kids and the America that the Repubs are, without apology, selling, I can only come down on the side of the slightly soiled angels (that’s “slightly” if you don’t happen to be on the recieving end of a Hellfire missle). I’m in. My check’s in the mail. Maybe there’s no way to run a country in the twenty-first century that doesn’t involve some evil acts. That’s not what I was tought as a kid, either, but, as I said, I guess it’s time to grow up and accept “not-perfect-but-infinitely-better”. Works for me, for now.

    • I’ll go with one of your two cavils, there, Buffalo. I do not in any way forgive Clinton for NAFTA, GATT, or welfare “reform” that hit our poorest people hard. Clinton–rather like Carter–has been a much better ex-President than he was a President, but given what was happening in the country at the time, he was better than anything else we were going to get.

      On drone strikes, however, I completely disagree with you. I’m for ’em.

      We’re in a war. The leadership of those who are actively trying to do us harm–and this time, for once, that is a real thing and not some cobbled-together Remember-the-Maine-Gulf-of-Tonkin-Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction lie–are actively and deliberately siting themselves in locations surrounded with civilian populations. That gives us a choice: we can go in by land, which means shooting our way through that civilian human shield to try to lop off the head of the beast (and probably giving the real targets ample notice and opportunity to slip away), or we can try to get to the targets as surgically as possible…which does not mean, 100%.

      No nation involved in armed struggle can be expected to decide that the leadership of its enemy is off-limits because it has taken, in effect, hostages. It’s a formula for failure. People who deliberately target civilians have no such scruples, and that’s who we’re up against.

      To his great credit, President Obama’s policy on drone strikes has placed the responsibility for them squarely in his own lap. CIA analysts have to convince him that a target warrants a drone strike, and he makes that determination personally, in context, including what kinds of civilians the enemy is using for shields. Unlike someone like Bush, who would have thrown this very dangerous power to CIA and military leadership and just let them sort it out, Obama understands the ethical stakes here and insists that the buck stop with him. To me, it’s another testimony to both his integrity and his practicality.

      It certainly isn’t possible to conduct a war without some “evil acts”–the enterprise itself is composed of evil acts, one after another. We justify them because in context, we see them as a lesser evil than the alternative, and for only the third time in my lifetime, in the case of the Afghan conflict, I actually agree with that conclusion in relation to a US military action. The others were peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia, and defending democratically-elected Aristide of Haiti from overthrow by the military (both done by Clinton).

      The reason Taliban leaders are finally at the negotiating table is that they and their Al Queda pals–not the foot soldiers, but the long-beards–are now in mortal danger. They’ve seen dozens of their compatriots suddenly and terrifyingly killed while sitting comfortably in places they thought were safe. By all reports, they are in disarray, having a hard time recruiting new leadership (go figure), and looking for a way not to be the next guys on the slab.

      The only way we’re getting out of Afghanistan is if the Taliban will agree to peace terms, including no longer harboring Al Queda or other anti-US terrorists. That can happen, but only if they want this thing to end as much as we do. The drone strike strategy is working, and to me that’s another feather in the cap of the President, who clearly wants us the hell out of there.

      Obama inherited this, and at that time, Bush’s incompetence and the neocons’ enthusiasm for Forever War made it seem it was going to be a never-ending quagmire. That is no longer true.

    • Have to basically agree with you. Locally we can make more comprehensible and pleasant changes. I am not so optimistic as you are about drones.

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