Political panorama in Philadelphia
Lady Gaga, Carole King, Broadway stars, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Demi Lovato, Katy Perry. After the GOP last week the music was definitely better at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week.
It wasn’t just the music. Delegates and speakers were delightfully diverse in characteristics of race, gender, sexual orientation, and even candidate preference. The convention deliberately and effectively showcased “real people”—non-politicians whose lives are affected by politics every day. Mothers who’ve lost children to gun violence. Families of police officers murdered for no reason. Struggling immigrant families with children forced to grow up far too quickly.
The convention was lively and dramatic at times. Sure, there were lots of protests and far too much screaming. But there were also plenty of superb speeches from party superstars. And not one of them had to sound out the letters of LGBTQ like they were trying to read the bottom line of an eye chart as Donald Trump did in his convention speech.
Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and President Obama gave extraordinary speeches as if the necessity of defeating a madman provided their speechwriters extra incentive. These party luminaries inspired delegates and millions more watching at home in nightly “must-see TV.”
There were Republicans on stage, explaining why they supported Clinton. The convention also featured a famous non-partisan, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who destroyed the mythology surrounding Donald Trump’s prowess as a businessman in a calm, methodical manner, a calculated message aimed at the business sector and independent voters. He closed with a plea to elect a “sane and competent” president.
Although Nevada’s elected Republicans were in short supply at their convention, the Democrats showcased a surprising number of Nevadans. On Monday night, little Karla Ortiz, born in Las Vegas, appeared with her undocumented mother, Francisca. She recounted her constant fear of coming home from school one day to an empty house, her parents deported.
Astrid Silva, an organizer for PLAN Action in Las Vegas and Nevada’s most famous DREAMer, told her story of crossing the border on a raft as a 4-year old, saying “My family believed so deeply in the promise of this country that we risked everything for the American dream.”
Clark County Sen. Pat Spearman spoke of how far Nevada and the nation have come on LGBTQ rights. She pointed out the insistence of Gov. Mike Pence in passing a so-called Indiana “religious freedom” bill, saying he “used religion as a weapon to discriminate.”
Nevada’s U.S. Senator Harry Reid blamed Republicans for the dubious gift of Donald Trump. On Thursday, U.S. House candidate Ruben Kihuen electrified the crowd, speaking directly in Spanish to Señor Trump: “Nosotros somos americanos.”
Then there was the big speech by the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. She delivered it well, looking poised and comfortable with herself, painting a clear picture of the choice in leadership before us.
But the speech that captured my heart came from Khizr Khan, the Muslim father of a heroic fallen soldier, This immigrant father reminded us of our shared core values in the most dignified and powerful way, chastising Trump for “having sacrificed nothing” and offering to lend him his copy of the Constitution so he could review how loathsome his proposal to ban one religion truly is.
While Republicans portrayed Democrats as being fractured and at war with each other, it was a message difficult to sustain as Bernie Sanders told the California delegation on day two: “It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”