With all the depressing news going on right now, let's focus on a more hopeful time. It was a time when, even though Americans were facing many challenges on many fronts, we knew that, with the right tools, we could make a better country. It was a time when our leaders looked to the future confident in our ability to rise above our personal divisions; when politics wasn't just about the people who were running but about the issues they were fighting for. Let's go back to three weeks ago.
The week of the DNC, my wife was a credentialed blogger through Momocrats. Though ouur son and I wouldn't be able to get credentials and wouldn't be able to get in to see any of the major speeches or anything, we thought it was important that we all go and be a part of this. So we packed up the car and drove the 850 miles to Denver.
The atmosphere there was electric. Signs everywhere were welcoming the Democrats to town. The residents were cheerful and open, many of them thanking us for being a part of the convention. Maybe it was just that there were so many people with the same hopeful world view that brought everybody's mood up.
The plan for us would be that I would run backup: drive Jaelithe and the other Momocrats to whatever events were needed; pick up and drop off supplies; and acquire food when time allowed. The rest of the time, I would take our son to see the city. Denver is a really nice city - for St. Louis residents, imagine Grand Center, the Loop, and the Central West End rolled together into one area. We went to the Denver Art Museum (free thanks to Target), local parks, the main pubic library and many other local sights.
The convention itself was interesting. By going there ourselves, we were able to cut through the curtain the media would hang in front of our eyes. Instead of watching the infighting MSNBC tried to show, we saw an assistant of Chris Matthews run out to grab the seven "PUMA" members in the area to keep them from leaving the shot. Instead of seeing protesters only allowed in the "Free Speech Zone," we saw protesters allowed and encouraged to say their peace when they interrupted Nancy Pelosi at an event.
I also saw the speeches, not through the talking heads and pundits on MSNBC and Faux News, but directly (or as my wife described, "unfiltered") on CSPAN. Rather than listen to Matthews or Hannity bloviate about themselves, I watched regular citizens describe the problems they face as they work themselves to the bone but still see 2%+ real pay cuts as inflation outgrows pay for those making less than $1 million a year. I watched veterans who can't get health care because the party in power would rather spend the money in Iraq. And through this all I have watched these hard working citizens be called whiners over Twitter when they describing how their government has forsaken them in favor of the top 1% of earners.
The DNC was hopeful and uplifting. It gave us real solutions to real problems facing everyone. Yes, they attacked their Republican rivals, but they attacked John McCain's tax policy which mirror's Bush's, and we all see how well that worked. They attacked McCain's foreign policy, which take's Bush's unilateralism to the next level, and showed how isolating ourselves from the world is the wrong way to go.
This is what politics and political conventions should be about. It should be about praising your party's accomplishments and highlighting its policies. It should be about issues that matter to all of us. It shouldn't be about criticizing the hundreds of thousands of community organizers working for $10,000 a year to make the millions of people in their community safer. It shouldn't be about patenting the word "lipstick."
We need a politics focused not on the personality of the one or two people in charge. We need a politics focused on helping the 300 million people living in this country. We need a politics about that recognizes the place of those 300 million people among the 6 billion people globally. Not long ago, those 6 billion people looked to America as the city on the hill, as leaders. Over the past 40 years, and especially in the last 8, we have abdicated that position. That doesn't have to continue. The Democrats recognize this and want to make our nation a shining example of democracy and equality again.