After having spent four full days covering the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and listening to every speech, it is safe to say that I earned the right to compare the Democratic convention to the Republican National Convention held a week earlier in Cleveland.
First, there was a significant difference in the quality of the speakers. There was no “Chachi” equivalent at the Democratic convention. Further, the all-star team rolled out by the Democrats including former president Clinton, Vice President Biden and President Obama, unlike the Republican speakers like House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell, actually spoke about the qualities of their candidate and did so in glowing terms.
There was no plagiarism controversy at the Democratic convention. As a matter of fact, in my opinion, the current first lady, Michelle Obama, may very well have given the most touching speech of the convention AND it was heartfelt from her own heart and not anyone else’s heart. She made it clear that “strength is a steady hand, not false bombast” and “when they go low, we go high” even when the faith and citizenship of her husband and the father of her children is questioned.
Yet, it was not the quality of the speakers that was most distinguishable between the two conventions. No, it was the quality of the message that I found to be the most distinguishing between the two; it was the difference between “hope and optimism versus anger and fear”. It was the difference between building on the strong foundation and guiding principles of this nation versus fear mongering and divisiveness built on hate.
There are, indeed, reasons to be concerned and to take steps to address those concerns both domestic and foreign. But, the one thing that should most be feared more than anything, in my opinion, is the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, a presidency built on knee-jerk reactions instead of well-thought out initiatives that lay out a course of action to achieve long term solutions.
In Hillary’s speech she layed out specifics to rebuild the middle class that were no where to be found during the week in Cleveland. She spoke of equal pay for equal work, debt free college, a plan for profit-sharing for workers, tax credits to companies that bring jobs back, and so on. She also addressed the gun safety controversy by clearly denouncing the fear mongering about her position on the Second Amendment by making it clear that she is not interested in repealing the Second Amendment or taking away anyone’s guns; she is only interested in “protecting you from being shot by someone who should not have had access to a gun”. She also went on to address every issue that this country faces including the threat of ISIS, infrastructure investment, the real threat posed by climate change and the need for a pathway to citizenship.
What Hillary and the other speakers presented was a vision for the future, not an attempt to take this country backwards to a time that made voting more difficult, that had abortions performed in the back alley ways, and when civil rights were not protected for all Americans.
Yet, the most important speech may well have been given was by someone who is not a Democrat. That would be the speech given by multi-millionaire and former Republican/Independent Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg.
Mike Bloomberg has a fortune that is estimated to be worth more than ten times that of Donald Trump and, as Mr. Boomberg pointed out, his fortune was amassed on his own and he did not have the advantage of million dollar start-up gift from his father as was the case with Trump.
A message from someone in the position of Michael Bloomberg is critical to reaching the block of independent voters who may be attracted to an “outsider” like Trump. Mike Bloomberg is clearly an Independent and his message will likely be more credible and resonate with that group of voters who do not align themselves with any particular political party. Attracting this block of voters could very well be the difference in the election.
His message was clear. This election is not about Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. This election, according to Mr. Bloomberg, is “not about politics but about competency”, it is about “humanity versus insanity”. It is, according to Mr. Bloomberg, about “putting country before party”. It is for these reasons that Independent multi-millionaire, former Republican Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg implored fellow Independents to cast their vote for Hillary Rhodam Clinton
As Hillary also pointed out, “a man you can bait with a tweet cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons”.
Another glaring difference between the two conventions is the difference between feelings and facts. A perfect example of this is the deliberate misrepresentation of the crime rate. Republicans pointed to a rising crime rate for purposes of fear mongering despite the reality that the actual crime rate has declined over the last forty years and especially during the last seven and a half years during the Obama administration. Facts don’t “trump” feelings, though, when it comes to Republican politics. According to Newt Gingrich even though the crime rate may be declining, “the feeling among voters is that it is increasing”.
Yes, crime is still a major problem and must be dealt with no matter what the current crime rate is. However, misrepresenting the facts as a means of instilling fear for political purposes deceives the voters and elections should not be determined by deceit.
Maybe our own Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin best summed up this Democratic National Convention and the Democratic party as a whole when he said to me: “We are the party that builds bridges, not walls. We open doors, not close them. We are building a future for our children and grandchildren. And we are the party that will make history with the election of the first woman president.”