Whatever else, Democrats show they’re the real party of Great American future

Jul 27th, 2016 | By Randall White | Category: USA Today

Lovely US First Lady Michelle Obama stands up for Hillary and knocks ‘em dead — while Bill O’Reilly at Fox News still thinks it’s important to note that the slaves who built the White House were well-fed and decently housed.

[UPDATED JULY 28, 29]. According to two US national polls at the start of this week on Monday, July 25, “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied going into Democratic convention” and (still worse) “Donald Trump bounces into the lead.”

And then, very early on Wednesday, July 27, even the Associated Press was reporting : “Sanders loyalists warn of party split in wake of Clinton victory.” (Despite a July 26 New York Daily News column by ardent Sanders loyalist Shaun King, headlined “To stop Donald Trump, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton.”)

Watching the second evening of the Democrat convention on TV Tuesday night, I was more impressed myself by Bernie Sanders’s own motion to make Hillary Clinton’s nomination unanimous.

“Panel speakers at the Native American Council on the first day of the Democratic National Convention included, from left, Charles Galbraith (Navajo), Rion Ramirez (Saquamish), Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux) and Kimberly Teehee (Cherokee).” Photo : Suzette Brewer.

And I was most impressed by the image of the current US Democratic party floating up from the state-by-state reporting of the vote that preceded Bernie’s final declaration of party unity. (Despite the press-reported hurt feelings of a 22-year-old “college student from Flint, Michigan, who expects the Democratic Party to break apart over Clinton’s victory.”)

Then, at 9 AM (and updated just after noon) on Wednesday, July 27, the excellent Éric Grenier was reporting that : “According to the CBC’s new Presidential Poll Tracker, which you can follow throughout the campaign to see where the race to the White House stands, Clinton retains a narrow lead with 44.6 per cent to Trump’s 42.8 per cent in a weighted average of polls.”

America Ferrera and Lena Dunham at 2016 DNC.

There has as well been much applause for Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday night and Bill Clinton’s on Tuesday night. (I was also especially impressed by Cory Booker — and I think I mostly agree with Amy Davidson’s Bill Clinton reservations in the New Yorker.)

President Obama will no doubt do brilliantly yet again tonight. And there have been more than a few other impressive TV clips from African Americans, Alicia Keys, business gurus, handicapped individuals (remember FDR), Hispanic Americans, movie stars, Native Americans, police officers, politicians, professional comedians, and on and on, at what was starting to look like a pretty smart and well-executed convention by the end of Tuesday night.

For me so far, however, the most compelling part of all the “great political theatre” (Chris Matthews, I think) was still the image of the current US Democratic party floating up from the state-by-state reporting of the vote, that finally officially confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton’s status as 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

UPDATE JULY 28, 3:30 AM : On the evening of Wednesday, July 27 in the city of brotherly love President Obama did in fact do brilliantly yet again — his best speech ever on some accounts : a mix of farewell address and passionate advocacy for his successor Hillary Clinton (who finally joined him onstage at the end!).

Other great speeches were delivered by business magnate, political Independent, and former NY City mayor Michael Bloomberg (a cutting attack on Donald Trump : “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one”), Barack Obama’s Vice President (and “friend and brother”) Joe Biden, and (quite surprisingly to me) Hillary’s Vice Presidential running mate, the social-gospelling former Governor of Virginia, Senator Tim Kaine.

Whatever else, the Democrats finally do seem to be getting some kind of compelling act together for the fateful general election of 2016 — as the party of democratic change (in Bernie’s spirit) and traditional American optimism and can-do conviction. Will it be enough to defeat the Dystopian Donald? Only the next 100 days will finally tell … Meanwhile, I was happy to be happily blown away last night.

UPDATE JULY 29, 12 NOON : The big question before Hillary Rodham Clinton’s most important speech in her life last night was could she pick up and run with the big boosts from the two previous nights at the DNC in the city of brotherly love.

For what it’s worth I agree that she will never be the orator that her husband and President Obama are. (Though I also like the view I hear on TV, sometimes at any rate and even from some Republicans, that Obama is the best American presidential orator since Lincoln.)

At the same time, I felt myself that Hillary’s 56-minute performance last night was close enough for jazz. And President Obama’s remarks the night before have finally convinced me that she is altogether an excellent choice for Commander in Chief of Democracy in America in 2016.

Note as well, of course, that Canadians almost always vote Democratic in American elections. And resolute exclusively Canadian citizen as I am, I of course cannot actually vote on November 8 in any case. May the best woman nonetheless win.

* * * *

“Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks after Vermont votes were announced during roll call at the 2016 Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Arena.” (Photo: Michael Chow, USA TODAY Network.)

Meanwhile again, back on  the night of Tuesday, July 26, in the sometimes quaint, frequently folksy, even more frequently boastful, and passionately free and democratic claims made by (often more than one member from) each state delegation (and those for such current non-state partners in the Union as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), you could see the new America of the future that lies ahead.

It is ambitious, diverse, high-tech, and inclusive : African, Atlantic, Black, Brown, East Asian, English-speaking, European (various brands), Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American, Pacific, Red, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Spanish-speaking, White, Yellow, just plain up-to-date modern progressive American, and on and on and on …

Or, as Michelle Obama so poignantly boasted Monday night : “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great … That somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.”

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Monday night — in very apt historical tones, despite the right-wing distortions of Forbes magazine. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.)

And for those who imagine that the new Democratic America of Hillary Clinton (bequeathed by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Baines Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman) is driven by Milquetoast idealism, remote from US national interests, there is Thomas Meaney’s report on UCLA Professor Perry Anderson’s new book, American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers, in the 14 July 2016 issue of the London Review of Books.

The last paragraph of Meaney’s report seems especially addressed to at least some of the great issues at stake in the frequently troubling US political conflicts now in motion :

What strikes Anderson about the collection of American strategists he’s assembled is how …  they all agree that the US will and must remain the supreme world power. In Walter Russell Mead’s eyes, America’s genius, with its special British lineage, is simply too difficult to replicate … As the strategist Christopher Layne … points out, when American foreign policy pundits speak of the ‘post-American world’, what they really mean is ‘the Now and Forever American World’. The presidential candidates who tend to win are those who most seamlessly embody the contradictory calls for more vigorous projection of American power on the one hand, and more aggressive globalisation on the other. This is something the Clintons have always understood.”

From the candidate’s website ...

Meanwhile (yet again), I have finally re-connected with the exact details of the somewhat eccentric relic of the US Electoral College in my all-too-aging mind. I was prompted in this direction by some helpful discussion at our most recent Bloor Street Annex Focus Group, in which I think I at one point urged some false intelligence that I have now, I hope, altogether banished. (And my apologies to our eminent Group legal mind, who I also think urged a more correct argument, at some point in a deep city bar’s outdoor patio on a fine summer night …)

Here is the official US government account : “What is the Electoral College?” Here is a useful Huffington Post summary of the same information : “What Is The Electoral College? How It Works And Why It Matters.” Here, up in the true north, strong and free, is  ÉRIC GRENIER’S PRESIDENTIAL POLL TRACKER, on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News website — which finally filters the polls it monitors through the Electoral College numbers. Very finally for now, M. Grenier’s Presidential Poll Tracker notes that there are just over 100 days left until the November 8, 2016 election. And, of course, of course, of course, a lot can still happen in this much time.  (UPDATE JUNE 28 : And as the audaciously hopeful President Obama has just reminded the American people, in the very end it’s Yes We Can not “yes he will.” Americans do not want to be ruled. So if you really are a citizen of the USA, USA, and believe love must always trump hate in Democracy in America, VOTE early and often on November 8 [and the bit about early and often is just sarcasm of course]...)

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  1. Upon return from vacation adventures, I am soaking up as much as I can to see ‘who is winning this half hour?’. As a Canadian I’m almost completely focused on the Democrat Convention. The updates in this missive reflect my approach as well – a thoughtful comment about an awesome speech then onto the next well said talk, and the next, the next.

    Regarding the complexities of the electoral college I remember when there was the Bush/Gore debacle Trump had previously been unaware of the existence of the Electoral College, and at that point said it ‘rigged’ the system. Clearly, not much has changed in ensuing 15+ years in his knowledge, or interest in understanding the ‘finer points’ of democratic structures. Khizr Khan’s offering Trump the Constitution suggesting he had likely not read it was the most powerful graphic action reflecting his paucity of knowledge.

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