Commentary - #4 August 1, 2004

Democratic Convention

One down; one to go. The only substantial question about the political conventions is the extent to which the Republicans will follow the Democratic convention script - a tightly controlled, tailored-for-the-media, set-piece, political entertainment spectacle in which there are only two roles for us ordinary Americans; that is, for those other than the political and Hollywood-styled stars up on the podium.

(1)Delegates hold signs, wave them and cheer on cue;
(2)TV viewers watch and consume the content, to the extent there is any to chew on.

The made-for-TV productions are a far cry from the national party conventions of old - conventions with real debates over issues to construct meaningful party platforms, plus exciting nominating contests of real consequence. The people in the picture, whether delegates or viewers, are consumers, not producers of a spectacle made and controlled by others. Some democracy we have. No wonder we can't plant its roots in Iraq; they've dried up here.

What should Bush and friends do at the GOP convention? - try to show that the GOP is closer to the great American, mainly conservative majority. Instead of trying to do so by way of a negative campaign that dumps on Kerry for being "out of the mainstream" in terms of "values," the Bush campaign should do so by showing that he and his party are positively more (small 'd') democratic in terms of values-in-action. Open up the convention! Throw out at least part of the script. Open it up to a broader bunch of grassroots participants, drawn from a sample of local Republican Party committees whose roles in the party are more than just cheerleaders. Throw the convention wide open to nominations for Vice President from the floor. Get the media to play a role more useful than talking heads - get them to tally votes on candidates and issues from Republicans not attending the convention. Put some NEW life into the Grand OLD Party.

Click here to read The Internet: No Savior of American Democracy, a Sound Off essay in NetPulse of PoliticsOnline.com.
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