Dear White Lefty Friends Who Are Too Cool For School And Keep Sniffing About The Democratic Convention on Facebook:
I get it. Political Parties are Corrupt, We Need Alternatives, Holding Your Nose for Hillary, Yadda. Yadda.
But can you please stop pretending that there is no significant difference between the rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party?
Can you please stop with the nonsense that the Democratic National Convention is full of GOP-style “American Exceptionalism”? Because it is not.
Look, stuff like "greatest country in the world" bugs me too. Because I grew up living in two different countries, and even as a child I had a finely tuned nose for the bullshit of “America is the only free country in the woooorld!” and other sentiments fit mainly for Lee Greenwood songs or the garbage bin. (In retrospect, I think it must have been pretty shocking for adults to be asked “What would you call Canada then?” by an 11 year old. Sorry, grade four teachers!)
But let’s talk context here. We are talking about the diversity of the modern Democratic party. These aren’t people who say the Founders are gods, the 1950s were perfect, and we have to “get back” to that perfection.
When someone like Michelle Obama puts it in context [CN: video autoplays at link] that the White House was built by SLAVES and now there is an African-American First Family living in it, that’s not GOP rhetoric. That is acknowledging the racism that literally built our country. While also celebrating that we have come pretty far.
When I see something like Meryl Streep’s speech, and the video that followed [CN: autoplays at link], the one that included explicit references to segregated busing, to the oppression of queer folk…I am seeing something that would emphatically not be found at a GOP convention. It celebrates activists and activism who struggled and sacrificed for greater justice. The rhetoric in that video explicitly acknowledges the US has become a more perfect union, but is not a perfect union yet. It challenges the listener to pick up the legacy of activists and do more…to expect more.
This is not Republican stuff.
Let’s just quote Tim Kaine (and yes, yes, I know how you feel about him, but seriously just think about this):
Thomas declared all men equal, and Abigail remembered the women. Woodrow brokered peace, and Eleanor broke down barriers. Jack told us what to ask, and Lyndon answered the call. Martin had a dream, Cesar y Dolores said si se puede, and Harvey gave his life. Bill bridged a century, and Barack gave us hope.
Do you really think you are going to find that at a GOP convention? None of those people are above criticism, and Kaine isn’t saying that. He’s saying they all contributed something, and, importantly, they’re not ranked. Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King get equal weight. So do Eleanor Roosevelt and Cesar Chavez. And he trusts that his audience doesn’t even have to know their last names, that “Harvey” and “Dolores” will be as familiar as “Bill and “Barack.”
If that’s Lee Greenwood –level GOP arglebargle, then I am Abe Lincoln’s tall stovepipe hat.
Look, party conventions aren't academic conferences. Yes, we should be critical, and think critically. Yes, we should be alert to the dangers of nationalism and hyper patriotism. But there is also a time and place for celebration and rousing the troops. And in the end, that’s a big part of what a party convention is all about.
The Democratic Party of the United States is not perfect. It contains people you fundamentally disagree with, it contains people I fundamentally disagree with, above all it is a political party that exists to get shit done. That means it will always have to be less pure than you and I in our ivory towers.
But when you look at the party convention floor and there’s an ocean of faces of so many different colors, and when you hear references to the freedom to love as a fundamental right, and you see the women crying at Hillary Clinton’s nomination, then maybe, just maybe, you could stop complaining for a minute about how both parties are basically alike and how the Democrats “sound just like Republicans.”
Because the Democratic National Convention is evidence that there has been a sea change in where the voting power is in the United States. And that? That is something worth celebrating.