July 24, 2016

I'm Underwhelmed (part 1)

On the eve of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, I'm underwhelmed.

Historically, I've looked at the conventions as moments of optimism, even the convention of the party of which I'm not a member. Blame my late history teacher father, who taught me and his other students that knowing what was going on was the only way to form a reasonable opinion.

In his world, it was at least as important, if not more so, to know what people who think differently than you are thinking. After all, you already know what your team stands for, so understanding what the opposing vision was would either make you more secure in your own, more open to finding common ground where you could, or may even change what you thought you believed.

Huffington Post photo
I watched the Republicans in Cleveland, Dad, I did.

I watched the Trump children talk about how fabulous their father is as a dad, grandpa, businessman, paycheck-signer, and how he is not the misogynistic, race-baiting, elitist, bullying guy he's made himself out to be on the campaign trail.

That he's a wonderful businessman who gives money to his children's charitable funds even if he doesn't necessarily stick to his own charitable commitments until pressed to do so, and that he'll end bad trade deals even as he and his family promote products that are made in China instead of being made in America (his daughter even used her speech at the convention to push her foreign-made dress line), and how good he is to his employees, even though he's been accused of not paying people who work on his projects, extracting deals to force them to take pennies on the dollar for work performed (a trait that apparently is not uniquely Trumpian, if the largest development project in my neck of the woods is any indication).  And more.

I watched as the Republican party paraded with great fanfare families of victims of crime committed by 'others', by people who don't look like us, and blamed the Obama administration for it, to strike fear into the hearts of Americans like a dagger, even though the risk of being victims of those crimes is vastly lower than the risk of being a victim of crimes committed by people who look exactly like us, even though crime rates overall are down and have been down for years.

And I saw party members all throw up in their mouths a little as they stood on the stage and pledged their support to a man with a single vision: building a wall. Around everything: our southern border, around people of color, around immigrants, around those would who would fight for the civil rights of Americans in the justice system, Around bona fide heroes; around public schools; around uppity women who are not 10s; around our NATO allies.. around and around and around the wall goes.

I watched the candidate himself say, without hesitation, without humility, without sarcasm, without any qualification:
Nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it.  
Yes, I watched the other guys, Dad, like you taught me. I watched this man, who so frequently looks like he's f-bombing our country, and I held my nose and shook my head and threw my hands in the air and muttered more than a few "what-the-hells" and similar comments under my breath (OK, out loud) as you would have, too. I did not see optimism, or very much room to come together, and I certainly did not change my mind on the fact that I don't stand with them.

And yet, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, I'm underwhelmed.