I found the Democratic National Convention both exciting and also indicative of what is wrong with the Democratic Brand. The fact that America now tortures was barely mentioned. This, I find, particularly egregious.
Though she was speaking of Mark Warner's speech specifically, I found Rachael Maddow's (of Air America and MSNBC fame) comments spot on and in many ways indicative of the Democratic Party in general. She said something akin to, "apparently Mark Warner is a politician sent from the future where there are no political parties and everyone gets along." Exactly! This is my whole problem with the play-nice-ocrats. Obama echoed this when he said, "We all put country first." NO WE DON'T. War profiteers do NOT put country first and we should NOT work with them. Fear mongers do NOT put country first and we should NOT work with them. People that actively seek to undermine the judicial system in America do NOT put country first, and we should NOT work with them. The Fed does NOT put this nation first, and we should NOT work with them. What the Dems need to understand is that not everyone wants to put this nation first, and it is both insulting and shocking that there is a real strain of thinking within the Party that suggests that not only can we work with these people but we SHOULD. No, we should not.
I think that the Clintons did a very nice job trying to bring about unity. I also think that the Obama camp showed an uncharacteristic flexibility and willingness to go out on a limb leaving the Clintons holding a saw, and it worked. Allowing both Clintons to speak, and also allowing Hillary to be the one that asked for Obama to become the nominee were powerful moments in the convention. Yes, it was stagecraft, but it was meaningful. Though, I still fear, should Obama not be elected, I expect that it will somehow be the "Clintons' fault". They have already been setup as this times Ralph Nader.
Obama's speech I found moving, and at times found my self questioning if I was going to vote for him. But something really sticks out at me that is upsetting.
In his speech he said the following, "But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator [McCain] takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism."
My main problem with Obama is that he voted to abandon the 4th Amendment, in his FISA vote a while back, despite the fact that he specifically said he would not and would actively support/engage in a filibuster to block the vote if needed. Whenever I bring this up to supporters their line of thinking tends to go, "Weeellllll, yeah... but sometimes you have to do things to get elected." Essentially, they are arguing that you have to play politics with your positions. As a consequentialist I can understand the notion that the most good is served sometimes by doing something that you are not necessarily proud of, but I also believe you need to be frank about it.
Yet, Obama strongly implied in his speech that he has never played politics with his opinions and by saying such challenges his character (supporters of Obama take note at how many times you have insulted his character). So we are left with, either he voted to kill the 4th Amendment for political purposes -- that is to say, to look like a manly-man who can be tough on terror and is willing to protect the Constitution even if that means burning it. And thus the attacks on his "character" are sound.
Obama changed his mind from his pro-filibuster stance and now actually believing it is okay for the United States Government and the major telecoms to tap your phones without a warrant. He actually believes that the 4th Amendment is optional. Essentially that it is unacceptable to punish those that wire tapped Americans, (just for the hell of it), because in his mind no crime was committed.
Neither option sits well with me.
Now let's end with hands down the.best.speech.of.the.convention, Dennis "The Menace" Kucinich's barn burner, "Wake Up America!" He talked about everything that the other Dems were too afraid to mention: the shamefulness of torture, the erosion of our freedoms, the loss of our moral standing in the world, war profiteering and war crimes. He also indirectly brought up FISA. I cheered when he did so. HE TOOK A SWING AT OBAMA ON THE CONVENTION FLOOR! In a convention completely devoid of talking about that shameful and horrid vote, Dennis had the courage to bring it up in both a classy and prominent way. Kucinich put principle over party. Not in the generic "we will all love each other and get along" kind of principle over party spouted by Warner and Obama, Dennis wasn't talking about Change™. No, Kucinich is the real deal, he believes in fighting for what is right, even if the leader of your party does not. Now THAT is Change I can believe in.