Now that the conventions are over, we have an absolutely clear understanding of the direction that each party intends to move the nation. The Democratic vision includes a woman’s right to control her own healthcare; a way for young immigrant “dreamers” to get an education; support for gays and lesbians and their right to marry; and a belief in shared responsibility. The Republican vision includes trickle down economics; turning Medicare into a voucher system; taking away a woman’s control over her own reproductive system; and denying the LGBT community their civil and human rights.
As we move into the final days of the campaign we will be inundated with TV ads and over-the-top rhetoric primarily directed at the few remaining undecided voters. But the real work will be to create enthusiasm among the faithful and each party will focus their ground game on getting their identified and likely voters to the polls.
You have to wonder how anyone who reads a newspaper or follows any news can still be undecided and reasonably ask, “What are you still waiting to hear?” But should anyone still have a question they need to read both the Democratic and Republican platforms. They provide the clearest picture of the beliefs of the party and the direction in which they will take the nation.
By all accounts, Democrats had the smoother convention. They didn’t have to deal with a hurricane though they had to move Obama’s acceptance speech indoors. They did have a fiasco related to their platform. It concerned leaving out the statement that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel and omitting the word “God.” When the president realized how unhappy Democratic candidates around the nation were, he asked that it be corrected. That brought on an insane scene as Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a mess of adding these two items to the platform. He called for a voice vote three times instead of just declaring the new language added after the first vote. But from that point on everything went swimmingly.
Michelle Obama spoke first and she was radiant. It was a different role than Ann Romney had. It wasn’t introducing her husband but reintroducing him. She needed to show how he was the same man many loved four years ago, which was not an easy task. She did it well and managed to make her husband come alive again for many people by speaking about how being president hasn’t changed his basic beliefs. She talked about him as husband and dad and like Ann Romney portrayed her husband as a loving family man.
The Democratic keynoter, Mayor Julian Castro, spoke eloquently of his grandmother and mother and did a much better job than Republican keynoter Chris Christie by connecting their lives to Obama’s policies.
Then the game changer! Bill Clinton was the prime-time speaker the night before Obama. Clinton went out and gave what many consider to be a master-class in political speech-making. He presented a step-by-step critique of the Republicans and then gave a step-by-step set of reasons to vote for Obama. He did it with facts, figures and humor. A 48-minute speech with the strongest line a blistering attack on the main Republican rationale for electing them which goes, “We left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so put us back in.” Clinton teed it up for the president better than anyone else could have.
The president then had the yeoman’s task of convincing many of the 23 million Americans still out of work that they should stick with and trust him for another four years. He had to make the case that he moved the country forward and if they stuck with him their lives would get better. He gave a good speech though not his best. Some felt it left out the blueprint for the next four years. But Obama is a great orator and he did lay out a clear vision for the nation’s future and since Romney had neither a blueprint nor a vision, the president’s speech did the job it had to do.
In less than eight weeks we will know who will lead our nation for the next four years. I predict that Democrats will get both increasingly excited and concerned and come out to vote in record numbers. Those few independent and moderate Republican voters who are still undecided will realize they don’t see themselves or their interests represented by the Republican Party and that will be the best reason for them to vote for Barack Obama.