It's just a coupla/three hours from the finale ultimo of the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia and we're all just a few forgettable speeches (Nancy Pelosi just said "this was the most important election" in our lifetimes) and (likely) cringe-inducing performances (remember Paul Simon croaking "Bridge Over Troubled Water"?) away from getting on with our lives and the general election.
As it stands, I've enjoyed the DNC vibe more than the one at last week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The music is better for the most part than what was played at the RNC, and there are more types of people walking around. I mean that literally and figuratively: The Dems are not as square and certainly not as white as the Republicans are. The LGBTQ community is more visible than in Cleveland and the Bernie Sanders' contingent also added diversity not so through much how they looked but how they acted. Make no mistake: This isn't Burning Man, but it's a bit looser than what the RNC offered up.
As things wind down, though, what strikes me more than the differences are the similarities between the RNC and DNC. The disunity of the GOP was occluded a bit because so many of the party's establishment and Tea Party wings didn't bother showing up. Ted Cruz's pointed refusal to endorse The Donald from the stage caused a scene, but that's more or less in line with the boos and the shout-downs and the actual protests in Philadelphia. The Sanders people are pissed, and not simply because their guy lost. As the DNC hack released by Wikileaks proved beyond all doubts, even the supposedly neutral DNC was actively working to screw Sanders. That mistreatment, according to many of the Bernie folks I talked with, was compounded by other real and imagined slights when it came to speaking slots, procedural votes, and the like.
Ultimately, both conventions revealed political parties working their asses off to keep it together. They each managed to nominate the least-popular candidates of all time, in the same election (according to RealClearPolitics, Trump and Clinton each have around 56 percent disapproval ratings). That itself tells you something isn't working right, that if the wheels aren't quite coming off fully yet, they're only a few lug nuts away from a huge crash.
As Hillary Clinton takes the stage, I'm willing to go out on a ledge and predict both the main points of her speech and the way it will be received by various audiences. In terms of what she discusses, she will talk about how:
- America is already great, so shut up Donald Trump.
- Having said that, we've got a lot of work to do, because in fact the world is on fire, literally (in terms of geopolitics) and figuratively (in terms of global warming/climate change).
- We need to spend more money on everything, consistent with her spending plan that will increase spending from a historically high 22 percent of GDP to 22.7 percent over the next 10 years.
- We need to redefine "barely making it" households upwards to include folks making $125,000, who would qualify for free in-state tuition at public colleges.
- We need to end pay differentials between men and women, whether or not such a gap exists when controlling for occupations, education, and experience.
- We need to pull together because we are stronger together and we need to fight the side that seeks to separate us from one another.
- There is no reason to ever talk about how to pay for all the spending we currently can't afford, much less the new stuff she's proposing.
- She is responsible for all sorts of diplomatic deals that ended wars and cooled hot spots but somehow the world is still at war and we need to engage the world rather than retreat from it.
- She is tougher than nails and, without directly attacking Donald Trump, she spits guys like him out for breakfast.
- Her election will be historic in all sorts of ways, especially for her and her parents, who both dreamed this and were afraid to dream it.
There will be two basic responses to her speech:
- From liberals, progressives, and Democrats, it will be hailed as an incredibly well-crafted and powerful summation not just of her current run for president but for entire career in service to helping all Americans, but especially the weakest and poorest among us.
- From conservatives, Republicans, and Trumpistas, it will be hailed as dull, boring, overlong, and filled with lies and omissions that underscore why she is unfit for anything other than a prison cell.
For the vast rest of us—libertarians, independents, the indifferent—the speech will be a mixed bag. Yes, it will go on too long but it will also include some well-turned phrases and a whole lot of hokum.
And then, starting tomorrow, or maybe next Monday, we'll get to figuring out how to actually bring our politics into rough congruence with a 21st-century America in which we have more good choices and real options than ever before, except when it comes to politics.
Related: Can Delegates and Democrats Persuade Me To Vote for Hillary?