The Democratic Convention: Half Dog and Pony Show, Half Compelling Vision

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Ben Cohen
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I watched as much of the first day of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina as I could stomach, and was left with the following thoughts.

The negative:

1. As always, it was a slick marketing campaign under the guise of a political convention. We heard sound byte after sound byte, skilfully edited video clips with emotional appeals to various Democratic demographics and a lot of idol worship. The whole thing was a gigantic advertisement for Barack Obama devoid of serious substance, not a serious political platform.

2. Not sure if I'm alone here, but I wasn't blown away with the supposed rising star of the convention Julian Castro. I thought his speech was pretty dull and formulaic, and gushing over his mother in public was pretty cringe worthy (sorry, I'm British - we don't do that kind of stuff). I really don't like the way the media labels any ethnic candidate with semi decent oratorical skills as 'the one to watch'. Ever since Obama propelled onto the national scene, they've done this with politicians like Bobby Jindal, Richard Steele, and Cory Booker. It's pretty offensive and condescending if you ask me - politicians should be judged on their ability, not their ethnicity. And to be frank, I didn't think Castro was particularly good. Perhaps he'll get better with time, but he's no Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

3. While Michelle Obama's speech was excellent, it was again another well designed piece of emotional trickery in order to sell Barack Obama the man and brand rather than the actual politician. Politician's back stories should not be of serious interest to anyone concerned about the state of the country - they should care about their policies.

The positive:

1. Regardless of my cynicism, the Democrats did a much better job than the Republicans did. The event was extremely energetic, well presented and well run. And as Chez Pazienza noted, "The Democrats went out there last night and looked like a party on top of the world. They were focused, energized, determined — and at the same time they seemed as if they were offering the truly American vision that their political adversaries seemed to have a monopoly on for so long."

2. While they were short on substance, the overall theme was pretty clear - Mitt Romney is running for the rich, and President Obama is running for every day Americans. Sure, this isn't technically true as both candidates won't tamper with a system rigged to benefit the rich, but there is a difference between the candidates and the Democrats are marking their territory there. The stories told by Michelle Obama and Julian Castro are in stark contrast to Mitt Romney's upbringing of extreme privilege, and the Democrats are right to hammer the point home that Romney really hasn't got a clue.

3. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland had the best one liner I've heard in many months: “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves."

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