Sunday, September 20, 2015

Democrats Catch Fire

Yesterday I did something I never thought I'd do willingly--on a perfectly good Saturday when I could have been riding my bicycle, swinging at the batting cage, running Mr. Boat at the beach, I spent the day indoors, sitting on a folding chair listening to politicians give speeches. 

But what speeches!  

Maggie Hassan, the governor of New Hampshire, who has turned out to be way better than I expected, set the tone with a withering attack on the Republicans who have nothing to offer but anger, invective and hate.

Then came Hillary, the first of four presidential candidates to speak.  I'd never seen her in person but that didn't stop me from having an opinion about her based on sound bites and things I'd heard and read.  But the woman has to be seen on her own terms, allowed to speak without interruption and she did that, for forty minutes give or take. For the first time, I saw her fire and her cutting wit. I will have no trouble voting for this lady and no doubt, I'll even go door to do for her.  What you remember from a stump speech, of course, are the one liners and zingers, but you also carry away the general tenor and what had always bothered me about Hillary Clinton was the sense every sentence has been parsed, focused grouped and all she cares about is getting elected, but there is no core set of progressive beliefs. That's wrong. She is as liberal as anyone, except maybe Bernie Sanders. Well, definitely, Bernie Sanders.

She heaved some nice harpoons toward Mr. Trump--"He says he cherishes women. Well, Mr. Trump, that's not good enough. Maybe when you learn to respect women we'll listen."  She did not fail to excoriate Trump for tacitly accepting the premise expostulated by the Republican at Rochester that President Obama is a problematic Muslim and not a native born American. (Of course, Trump was a birther for years himself, so all he could do was to look embarrassed and mutter tepid things like, "We'll look into that.")

So, I'm with Secretary/Senator Clinton now, mentally.

But if my head is with Hillary, my heart is with Bernie Sanders.  After Hillary got through with the 4,000 people packed into the convention center in Manchester, I thought there was no way Bernie Sanders could be anything but an anti-climax.  Everyone had screamed themselves hoarse and stomped and cheered so ecstatically for Ms. Clinton, what could anyone have left for Bernie? He'd be trying to stoke the dying embers of a burnt out fire.

But when Senator Sanders took the stage the place erupted anew. Bernie signs were thrust into the air, held above heads on every side of the area, we were surrounded by a sea of light blue Bernie T shirts and when the ovation finally died down enough for Mr. Sanders to be heard through a pause in the din, he smiled wryly and said, "It sounds to me like at least someone here is ready for a revolution in politics in this country." And the place erupted again. 

Bernie railed against the "billionaire class," the fact that 1% of Americans own more than 90% of the people, and he railed against an America where not a single, solitary Wall Street banker or CEO went to jail for sending the economy to the bring of a Great Depression with their bogus mortgage backed stocks, while we send poor, young men to prison for decades non violent drug offenses, and he said when banks are too big to fail, they are too big to exist, and he said that no Congressman or Senator who fails to understand the cost war extracts from the soldiers who fight it should be allowed to serve in any legislature and he pointed out he had voted against the Iraq war.  

He also said public colleges ought to be free in America as they are in Western Europe and he said we ought to have Medicare for all. He did not explain how he'd pay for that, but his twenty something supporters weren't concerned. 

As Hillary and Maggie Hassan had, Bernie Sanders laughed at the Republicans who are screaming about the demise of Social Security, when the fixes for Social Security are nearly painless and very obvious, fixes which will guarantee its solvency into the next century.

What was so exhilarating was the anger. It was like listening to Lewis Black. The Republicans are angry and gleeful when Ted Cruz and Donald Trump give voice to their anger. But Democrats have sat placidly by, accepting the propositions that Obamacare has been a disaster, that  ISIS and Syria are simply failures of President Obama's foreign policy, that Medicare and Social Security are scams, wasteful government programs which will ruin the economy and grow hair on your palms and soles and destroy America's "honor" and naturally deserved "hegemony."  Finally, Democrats are saying:  Wrong! Lies! 

As Hillary said, "Mr. Trump says he'll make America great again. Well, I've got news for Mr. Trump. America is great and as long as Democrats can govern, we'll make it greater." 

Every single Democrat rattled off the economic statistics about low unemployment and rising stock market values. Each gave credit to Obama for steering us clear of the next great Depression toward which the Republicans had sent us hurtling. 

There is hope, if the energy can last. 

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