Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When You Think About It: Some thoughts on the 2012 RNC and the DNC

Words and photos by f LoBuono

When you think about it, doesn't it seem that EVERY Presidential election is the most important of our generation. The current one is certainly being touted as such. But, when you think about it, isn't EVERY Presidential election the most important of our generation? Simply put, it HAS to be. Every four years it is our American right and DUTY to elect a person who will then be known as the most powerful on the planet. And, by their policies and actions, their influence can be found in American life far beyond their four year term of office. That lasting influence is even used in active, current campaigns as it is being used now. One of President Obama's talking points is that he is still struggling with economic policies that he inherited from the previous Bush administration. Of course, his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, says "nonsense, own up to your failure in policy". Another way that a sitting President's influence lasts beyond his incumbency is in the appointment of Supreme Court justices. Justices are appointed for life by the President. So, long after that President has moved on, the justices that he appointed continue to wield great influence over the laws of this country. So, indeed, it IS the most important of our generation!

Another superlative used in describing elections, and this one being no exception, is that the choice has never been clearer. Pundits use those terms. So do the candidates. Again, generally speaking, it is ALSO true of most elections; each political party has a platform that is usually in stark contrast to the others'. However, in the case of the Election of 2012, the hyperbole may actually equal the truth. From my observation, Democrats and Republicans couldn't be further apart in their goals and how they will go about achieving them. Having just returned from covering both the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Fla. and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, N.C., I believe that I had a unique perspective from which I have gleaned an opinion.

This was my third election cycle and have noticed recurring themes in all three. The most common of these is the difference in the overall make-up of the delegates who attend them. And, this year, it seemed even more pronounced. Simply put, the people who attended the RNC were generally older, whiter, and wealthier than their DNC counterparts. And I believe that the photographs that I made there support this observation. My work was right in the middle of the arena where the main events were held. I also had unfettered access to many "behind the scenes" areas. I made a point of observing and documenting what I saw. What I did see was an audience at the RNC that was not exclusively but OVERWHELMINGLY white. The audience at the DNC was completely mixed with a myriad of colors and cultures represented. In other words, at least to me, the Democrats looked more like my vision of America than did the Republicans. It could reasonably be described as one being exclusive and the other inclusive.

I also believe that the reaction of each crowd to their respective speakers was reflected in their make-up. The Republicans were receptive, interested, and enthusiastic for all of their speakers. They chanted slogans when prompted. They applauded vigorously for all of their speakers and gave regular standing ovations for their "superstar" ones. However, the Democrats went "crazy" for virtually all of theirs! They screamed. They stomped. They waved banners and flags. They hugged. They cried. This created a completely different atmosphere in each venue. The RNC was very business-like. The DNC was a celebration. I think, that, knowing each parties' focus, this should not be a surprise. This business like approach of the RNC vs. the celebration of the DNC was also reflected in the speeches made at each.

I must say that the RNC, especially considering the overall makeup of their audience, did an excellent job of parading forth a good deal of so-called minority speakers. There were blacks, women, black women, Latinos, and Latino women. There were celebrities (think Clint Eastwood) and rising stars within the party (think Marco Rubio). I believe all of them spoke from the heart, were sincere in their beliefs, and NEVER wavered from staying on message. And that message was, it's the economy, stupid!! Virtually ever single speaker (with rare exception, like Condi Rice) repeated the company line ad naseum.  In the end, EVERY speech was about money. Even the immigrants that spoke and related stories of sacrifice and success through that sacrifice ultimately talked about how they needed the money to continue. Virtually none of them spoke about social issues. Virtually none of them spoke about environmental issues, except to support more off-shore drilling and the oil industry. Virtually none of them spoke of creating a compassionate society. No. They spoke as if money, a strong economy, would solve all of our current ills. I must say that I did not find this in and of itself evil. There is something to be said of a society that helps those who help themselves. And I think that's the type of society the GOP is striving to create. However, it comes across more sinister than that to many people. The message could be interpreted as meaning, keep up or be left behind.

At the DNC, they also paraded forth a good deal of so-called minority speakers. There were blacks, women, black women, Latinos, and Latino women. There were celebrities (think Scarlette Johanson) and former stars within the party (think Bill Cinton). I believe all of them spoke from the heart, were sincere in their beliefs, and NEVER wavered from staying on message. Ah, and here's the critical difference. The Democrats' message was that if we all worked together, with compassion and tolerance, not only would the economy improve, but our very lives would. Money IS important. We all want to live well. But we ALL live better when we help those less fortunate.

I think that former President Bill Cinton, in his brilliant speech introducing Mr. Obama, summed it up best when he explained that choice is ours to make. Do we want to live in a country with an attitude than can be seen as winner take all? Or do we want to live in one where all citizens are seen as winners?

One thing that is important to keep in mind through all of this. The debate is intense and it is emotional. This election is so clear in its message and everyone wants it to be there vision. Well, that's not the nature of democracy. Only one, forged in compromise, can be implemented. Still, in the end, what makes this a more perfect Union, is the fact that we are all AMERICANS. If can acknowledge AND accept that, we may just get somewhere.

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