As I try to wrap up the two conventions, I find myself put in an oddly difficult place. On the one hand, we have Tampa, where it was sweltering, and aside from disruptions out of Ron Paul loyalists, everyone seemed to be pretty much on message. But what was the message? We know that Gov. Romney now says he really wanted the President to succeed (even though in March 2009 he told Larry King he wanted Obama’s liberal policies to fail). And the man who can’t put on a pair of pants without them busting into flame, Paul Ryan, appeased the far right.
But it’s difficult to summarize a convention where no one really said anything of substance. Paul Ryan has said quite a few things, but they’ve almost all been false. Mitt Romney wants to make America better, but won’t tell us how.
And neither has any real foreign policy experience. I will say that the people of Tampa were very gracious hosts to a weird dog and pony show that was devoid of both political specifics and enthusiasm.
Then we have the Democrats in Charlotte. They orchestrated a buzz-saw of an enthusiastic, emotional and very policy-oriented convention that was aimed, basically, at reminding the US that four years is not enough time to heal a country devastated by eight years of Bush/Romney economics. I also was surprised that the Democrats had speakers every night, from First Lady Michelle Obama to Bill Clinton, who exposed Romney for the empty suit he is. I have no doubt that Romney, were he to be elected, would do exactly what he was told by the extreme right wing. But he seems not to have any real ideas of his own. Except when it comes to taxes. There he becomes specific and really does outline a “Bush on steroids” tax plan, along with his increasingly far-right running mate.
A rough and not very specific tax plan is making its way around the web, but the general message is clear: Taxes must be cut for the wealthy. Oh, and no more healthcare rights for women, no more voting rights for minorities, and no more Medicare for the elderly, or Medicaid in general. I could go on, but why bother when it all boils down to cutting everything not related to cutting taxes for the extremely wealthy, and making it easier for corporations to wreck the economy again? That was the RNC.
The DNC was mostly a party, and a parade of great speakers who outlined exactly what the President would do with four more years. They reminded America that Obama killed Bin Laden, saved the US auto industry, and actually found a way to grow or save jobs in incredibly trying circumstances. Obama has worked, we were reminded, under the shadow of a virulently obstructionist Republican Party, who even stated that their only goal was to make sure that the President was a “one term President.”
The big story heading into the conventions was the enthusiasm gap. And it’s real. But it turns out the media got it upside down. The Democrats seemed much more enthusiastic and engaged than the Republicans, who seemed content to just get the whole nasty business of nomination done.
That’s what it comes down to: Mitt Romney, the empty suit, or President Obama, a man who is obsessed with education, health care, dignity for veterans and seniors, expanding a real middle class, and national security.
For me, the choice between the candidates was clear before the conventions. But the two conventions did serve a purpose; among other things they solidified my resolve to make sure that President Barack Obama is given four more years.
He’s earned it, and we need it.
Charles Cullen is a writer in Atlanta, Ga., who covered the conventions for ProgressivePopulist.blogspot.com.
From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2012
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