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Posts Tagged ‘Republican National Convention

Divided We Fall

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All Americans recognize that partisan politics are part of a Presidential election, but the head first dive that speakers at the Republican Convention took into divisive politics that sought to deepen existing fissions along cultural lines in this country was considered reprehensible by many. 

I’m talking about how the speakers at the Republican convention relentlessly evoked images of service, patriotism, duty and tried to associate them as Republican values. The language of patriotism is usually delivered under the guise of supporting the troops, as if Democrats are somehow incapable of this. 

I’m talking about how they disparaged Democrats for being wasteful and reliant on the government, perpetuating the sentiment that only Republicans strive for efficiency in government.  Starting on Tuesday evening and culminating with John McCain on Thursday, every speech at the Republican convention was interspersed with words like; service, fight, defend, honor, legacy, protection and so on. I sat by and watched as George Bush used these same tactics in the last two elections, by demonizing ordinary Americans and accusing those who disagreed with him as being unpatriotic. I watched in 2004 as incumbent President Bush promised Americans in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that he would take care of them, as he cooly stood by and let them dishonor John Kerry’s honorable service. (Had the opposite have been true in this election, Democrats would have been denigrated to the status of heretics by the other party).  Unfortunately, eight years have passed and no significant domestic policy changes have occurred except for the Patriot Act, which largely curbed our civil liberties and No Child Left Behind, which was severely underfunded, otherwise those folks in Ohio and elsewhere were very much forgotten. 

So now the United States has sixty days to choose between two men, who both claim to hold the key to our progress. While many John McCain supporters claim that he is not George Bush in sheep’s clothing, many remain unconvinced.  When you look at the direction President Bush has taken the country, and understand that John McCain has been in line with the large majority of his policies, its hard to believe that he’s the maverick that is going to “shake up the Washington establishment.” 

John McCain’s speech focused a great deal on his military service, for which he should be honored. His speech also touched on the economy and how he seeks to change America’s course, because he recognizes that the country is moving in the wrong direction. This is striking because for 6 of the last 8 years, the Republican party who claims to represent true American values, have held power in the legislative and executive branches and have not been able to make the changes to the Washington. It is this party, who seems to have forgotten the core principles our founding fathers took great pains to create. America’s founding fathers wrote that “all men are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights including Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Their speeches throughout the week, and policies that exclude all groups, reflect their rejection of the very creed that freed our nation.

Instead, their policies have helped to increase the inequality in this country, with tax cuts for the rich and severe under-investment in education, healthcare, science and technology. While McCain showed promise, he has reversed his positions on energy and immigration, helping him to fall back in line with his party’s base.  

When Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani ridiculed the “others” for freeloading off the government, and explained that Republicans know the difference between good and evil, he was saying, “you are either with us or against us.” Their hypocrisy could be the topic of several other articles, but what was even more compelling was the large audience cheering them on with rhythmic and regular chants of “USA” and “Country First,” laughing along with their fairly crude humor. The Republican party fails to recognize that every American is the grandson or granddaughter of generations of immigrants who came to the United States for religious freedom and economic opportunities. As someone who is a daughter of South Asian immigrants, who learned about the American dream, by watching her parents work hard to send their children to the best schools and raised them with strong values and instilled great patriotism and commitment to our communities, these images of the “other America” were eerie and saddening. John McCain might claim to understand the world, but the RNC convention made sure that anyone who was not on the Republican side, felt extremely alienated and bewildered.

If the United States is to heal after The horrendous 9/11 attacks, The agonizing and underrepresented wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The racial profiling against Americans at the behest of feds that were in hot pursuit of terrorists, The resurgence of race and class wars and vast inequality, The diminished standing of the United States and our lack of forward vision, then we need someone who has the strength of character and conviction and a strong devotion to all Americans, not just those who fit an ideal, defined by the Republican party. This is not an opinion shared by one, but by many, as evidenced by the ten million dollars raised by the Obama campaign, the day after the RNC went on the attack. 

America needs a President who will lead them into the future, one who has lived the American dream, who has an informed world view and can bring innovation, creativity and integrity to the role and who has a definition of American, that encompasses all, not only the few, this is why Barack Obama will make a great President.

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Republican Convention Redux – Night 2

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Despite a large crowd that waved placards and broke out in random chants of “U-S-A” and “Country First” over the course of two hours, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm during the first full night of the Republican National Convention. In addition, having watched most of the DNC convention last week, the organization and overall execution were certainly not matched by the Republican party this election year. 

The lack of enthusiasm was reflected most obviously in President Bush’s brief and carefully constructed speech. I’m not sure what the political pundits are saying right now, but it seemed to me that the speech was extremely forced. The President also did not really go after the Democrats, aside from a few small jabs like referring to the “angry left.” The concise nature of the President’s speech has not gone unnoticed by the media, who have indicated that the McCain campaign has taken pains to distance themselves from the sitting President, who is largely unpopular amongst most Americans. 

The surprise speaker of the night was Fred Thompson, not because he wasn’t scheduled, but because he was more energetic than everyone who preceded him. Thompson had some interesting lines in trying to make the case that John McCain was made up of “rebellion and honor.” Perhaps the most out of place line was when Fred Thompson explained that McCain drove a “Corvette and dated a girl who worked in a bar as an exotic dancer under the name of Marie, the Flame of Florida.” Thompson also focused a great deal of time in detailing out John McCain’s extremely painful and heroic ordeal as a POW during the Vietnam War. During these moments, the audience seemed somber, especially the many Veterans that sat in the audience.  

He made several jabs towards Obama, likening him to someone who “talked a good deal on the Sunday talk shows and frequented the Washington cocktail circuit.” However, nothing was much of a surprise, it was really the typical “Obama is a talker, not a reformer” rhetoric. He also warned of the protectionism, higher taxes and expansive bureaucracy if Obama were elected and made fun of the lack of Progress made by the sitting democratically controlled congress. In some ways, it was disappointing, because I expected the Republicans to have some fresh new ideas, but this was not the case. In the same vein, while Thompson did do McCain justice by describing his character, he failed to impart why McCain’s service, would translate to being the best choice for President. 

Then, it was on to the keynote speaker,  Joseph Lieberman, a former Democrat turned Independent.  From the get go, Lieberman failed to engage the audience, and only received applause when he uttered a positive statement about John McCain’s service.  Lieberman, like Thompson, touched on McCain’s history of being a reformer and standing up to political lobbies and even in some cases taking on the Republican establishment. However, as he continued to speak, it almost seemed that McCain, the maverick, reformer etc. didn’t belong to to the Republican party, but rather that he was an Independent, running under the guise of ‘Republican’. By this point in the night, the convention hall in St. Paul seemed like a diffused balloon, as the camera panned across delegates, looking off into space or half-heartedly waving signs emblazoned with “COUNTRY FIRST” on one side. Unfortunately for Lieberman, he did not make a strong case for McCain’s run for the presidency. The only issue he touched on forcefully was the surge in Iraq, which was successful, but at a recognized cost. (See Iraq War Posts on this blog).

Overall, unlike last week, when the Democrats were able to deliver consistent and cohesive messages, the Republican party seemed to flounder. On the second night of the convention, there were no energizing speakers who appealed to the base, but rather a group of scattered speakers who failed to deliver for John McCain. 

Update: In a commentary by Carl Bernstein regarding the theme of last night’s Republican convention, it seemed that he felt strongly that the subtle references to the “angry left” and continual reference to patriotism should be concerning to the Democrats because these are the same tactics that were used to elect Bush 43, in 2000 and 2004.

I agree with Bernsteins’s article because from the haunting video about American’s and service to the detailed account of John McCain’s time in a torture camp, it seems as if they were trying to put forth the notion that he was in fact more in line with “America.” However, as I noted above, the almost feverish appeal of “USA” and “COUNTRY FIRST” chants that took over the room, was eerie, since the population of the room was not representative of a modern-day America.

Here’s the article: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/03/bernstein.rnc/index.html 

Written by Veena

September 3, 2008 at 5:18 am