CHARLOTTE - Here are five parting shots from the Democratic National Convention before I depart the Queen City.
The Democrats are just as unified as the Republicans
Republicans are not exactly enthralled with Mitt Romney but they hate President Barack Obama. They really, really hate him. The are going to battle with Mitt Romney. They’ve made peace with Romney and have rallied with a grim sense, a deep belief even, that a second Obama term would be the end of America.
Democrats still really love Obama but the shine has faded. That doesn't matter though, because now the embodiment of everything they can’t stand about corporate America; a candidate whose signal achievement, Romneycare in Massachusetts, laid the groundwork for Obamacare, is aiming to take his job. Obama hasn’t lived up to his following, but it's his followers who worry that they might not live up to him. He’s still The One.
How are the Democrats the party of immigration?
As Republicans embrace a restrictive approach to immigration, the Democrats remain the default party of immigrants, even though the sitting Democrat president is deporting people at a higher rate than his GOP predecessor. All week long delegates and officials at the DNC would pay lip service to Obama's support for the DREAM Act, blame Republicans for any and all immigration problems, and then quickly pivot to the president’s domestic policy achievements. Party members appear optimistic that he will improve on immigration if he is reelected.
Nobody in the Democratic Party really cares about the War on Drugs
How low of a priority is reforming American drug policy for Democrats? It’s so low that many rank and file Democrats said “getting tough” on drugs, not legalization or decriminalization, is their preferred reform. It’s so low that the party ran a video featuring the characters from the stoner comedy franchise Harold & Kumar playing to type as dumb liberal patsies who will fall in line for the president just because he asked. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), the loudest voice in the party for a sensible drug policy, is leaving in January. Someone, possibly the Bay State's Michael Capuano or Colorado’s Jared Polis, may take up the torch in Congress.
Don’t ask about drone strikes
Asking high-profile Democrats about drone strikes may only get you waved off, but it can also get you thrown out of the building. Militarist chest thumping on the convention floor Thursday gave the DNC the feel of a Republican convention. For decades Democrats have trailed Republicans in the “who wants to bomb other countries into the Stone Age more” category. No more. The Democrats have caught up and they’re proud of it too.
Charlotte was a better host city than Tampa but poorly organized
The Time Warner Cable Arena has narrow concourses that were packed like sardine cans, making the convention a claustrophobic nightmare. The light rail between the arena and the Convention Center was more frequent than the shuttle system in Tampa. The Arena's entrances would close and open seemingly at random. The festival atmosphere on the sidewalks around the convention center was fun on the first day but the narrow sidewalks were packed and disagreeable by the last day. The abundance of amenities in the immediate area made the convention much more convenient than Tampa.