So I have taken a weekend to decompress and try to put a little distance between the event and something approaching a realistic if not objective assessment of it. For eight days I and dozens of my colleagues worked behind the scenes of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte as part of the Podium Operations unit that is charged with ensuring that the three-day event flows in a seamless way. The mere logistics of ensuring that hundreds of speakers, musical talent, and group ensembles such as the 46 veterans who appeared onstage following Senator John Kerry and Admiral Nathman, or the 30 women members of Congress or the nine women Senators are where they are supposed to be and ready to enter Stage Right on cue is a daunting one to say the least. But thanks to a dedicated crew of volunteers, a mix of seasoned political veterans, rookies, and in-betweens, it all happened, on cue and seemingly without a hitch. And while the orchestration is every bit as messy backstage as making sausage, the important thing is the cooked product and in this instance it tasted great.
The commitment and dedication of those toiling to produce this product notwithstanding, I believe the success of the recently completed convention was the product of a vivid amplification of the different visions of where the candidates and their respective parties wish to take the citizens and the country. This was the eighth Democratic convention I have attended since 1976 and while each had its own distinctive flavor, I can truly say that by far the energy permeating Time Warner Arena last week surpassed all of the previous meetings I have had the pleasure of attending.
There is very little if any room for ambivalence when assessing the paths each candidate would have us traverse over the next four years. One path would continue the progress we have already measured on the devastated economic landscape inherited by this administration; the other would represent a foolishly radical deviation that would plunge us back into the abyss. It is clear that our best hope lies in the path of no change. These distinctions were vividly on display as former President Clinton took us through the most politically thorough analysis of the consequences of each course of action being offered in this year's election. And for those who would purport that the Obama Administration has not produced any meaningfully constructive accomplishments over the past four years, Joe Biden eloquently and firmly laid out an impressive list of fact-based and irrefutable milestones that you may not like but cannot deny happened.
And lest there be any confusion whatsoever, this administration's commitment to international and national security issues, long thought to be the Achilles heel of the Democratic Party, now stands as solid and impermeable as at any time in the last fifty years. Just ask Al Qaeda, if you can even find an operative who will publicly claim to be such.
On the question of the economy there were no excuses and no backing away from the fact that it is not where we want it to be, but once again the facts are that we are better off than we would have been without Federal government intervention. The president has made no bones about the fact that more needs to be done and we need to finish what we have started. To deviate from our course now and degrade into the past failures which have mightily contributed to us getting here in the first place would be borderline insane.
But what struck me most about the presentation of this president's resolve and steadiness was the fact that there was no whining. It would be very easy to talk about the wretched mess that was inherited and the substantial gestation period that preceded its buildup. While it would have been factual and many might argue warranted, it could have been construed as whining, and nowhere within the context or content of the proceedings could the Democrats or the Obama Administration be accused of whining.
No, it is very clear that this election will be won or lost on the issues that need to be addressed looking forward. Let there be a discussion of not where we are or how we got here but rather where we want to be and how we get there. This is really what concerns those who fear uncertainty and worry about the world which their children will inherit.
So the message coming out of Charlotte in unequivocal: namely, focus on the future, look forward not backward, and make your decisions based upon whose vision better reflects the ideals and aspirations of an American society grounded in fairness, equity, opportunity, and sustainability. To pretend that the path is an easy one insults the common sense and innate intelligence of the American people. But it is also critical to accept that the path to success will require a level of cooperation and civility that has been nonexistent for the greater part of the past couple of years and will require a level of participation that sends a clarion call to all elected officials that partisan shenanigans will no longer be tolerated.
It is for this reason that Republican electoral strategy has focused on voter suppression in key battleground states in order to blunt the will of the people. When you are bereft of constructive ideas you resort to obstruction, evidenced by the unprecedented employment of the filibuster, a sinister maneuver that unabashedly distorts its intended use by the Founding Fathers.
So let the discussion begin in earnest, and for its part the media owes it to themselves and the American people to focus on content and the issues and veer away from their entertainment-obsessed predilections. And let the American people be the arbiter of what is in their best interest based upon the facts of the respective presentations, not the fiction of the moneyed interests that would bury the issues under a pile of profit. These are tall orders indeed, but hope and change is still alive.
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