posted on September 05, 2012 15:39
There may not be, as John Edwards famously said, “two Americas.” But there sure are two parties with diametrically different views of America.
That’s the value of conventions. Cynics may dismiss them, and TV viewers may ignore them. But the conventions tell a story and paint a picture. As Yogi Berra said, you can observe a lot by watching.
The Republican convention was rich, white and older. The Democratic convention is younger, darker and not as rich. Republicans believe in big business and hate government. Democrats believe in government and are wary of big business. Republicans are more churchy. Democrats are more secular.
Another big difference: Democrats seem a lot more enthusiastic about their nominee than Republicans were about theirs. The Democratic convention is all about President Obama. The Republican convention looked like an audition for 2016. Romney may have the Republican nomination, but he doesn’t have Republicans’ hearts the way his running mate does.
But here’s a big similarity between the conventions: Independent viewers and voters might easily conclude that neither party is talking to them.
Fully one-fourth of all North Carolina voters today are registered Unaffiliated. There are 1.6 million of them, 1.9 million Republicans and 2.7 million Democrats.
Both conventions seem to be dedicated to the proposition that this is a base election. Not base in the sense of “mean and ignoble” (though that might apply), but base as in turning out the party zealots rather than persuading people in the middle.
This bothers people in the middle. They are bothered by the Republican’s angry tone and visceral hatred of the President. Also, as one unaffiliated voter said: “Republicans look like they’re for people who’ve got it made, and Democrats are for people who are trying to make it.”
But Democrats have their own problems connecting with the political center. One example: the Democratic platform doesn’t mention the word “God.” My old boss Jim Hunt, for one, feels strongly that Democrats ought to talk more about their faith and how it shapes their politics.
Also, a friend who describes himself as a “conservative Democrat” was bothered by a profile he read of several Democratic convention delegates. “They all work in government,” he said. “None of them have ever met a payroll.”
There’s a vast gulf between the parties. Will either party fill it, or will it go ignored?