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 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