Made for TeeVee

Well, I’ve now seen my second US political convention, live on HD teevee, and I’m still a little shell-shocked.

Before I go any further, let me say that in Australia I have always voted on the so-called left side of the political fence. From voting age till the 1990s I was a supporter of the Australian Labor Party (note the US spelling, it has an interesting history), until its stand on environmental and immigration issues and its gradual caving in to the demands of giant corporations gave my vote to the Australian Greens. Labor’s other opponent, the Liberal Party has, like its US counterpart the GOP, moved even further right and is far more willing to embrace the religious (read Christian) extremists – fortunately still a very minor player in Australian life – and other groups also to a greater or lesser degree removed from reality.

So how do the two sides stack up in my mind? I tried very hard to be objective while watching both televisual extravaganzas, but having disclosed my political leanings, accusations of bias (and foreign bias what’s more) are sure to surface, but I’ll press on regardless.

At both events, of course, the speakers were preaching to the already converted and I do understand that the main objective of all this lavish spending is to enthuse fundraisers and vote-gatherers. However, from the little I have seen, they are also reaching out to the populi whose vox is always being sought by teevee reporters-on-the-street and -in-the-diner.

Having said that, at last week’s convention, I think the politicians’ speeches were better, more of what political speeches should be. No one of sound mind expects bald facts to be laid on the table at any sort of political rally, the objective being to arouse sentiment and fervor, to sway the mob and sweep common sense aside in favour of anything other than what the opposition has to offer and Bill Clinton, the President and other politicians of varying degree certainly did that. I also think that the Democrats’ choice of supporting speakers was much better. They spoke with more passion and in most cases were more erudite, reminding me, if no one else, that the alternative offered by the Republicans is even more ghastly than the reality we have now. One issue was noticeable by its absence. I had expected someone to get up and give some sort of undertaking to get stuck into the financial interests that have brought this country – and most of the world – to the brink of an abyss, but apparently all is forgiven and nary a word was said on the subject.

On immigration, the Democrats won hands down in my book. Ethically, to deport young people whose parents brought them to the USA illegally is wrong, and economically it makes no sense at all, but there is another aspect to the Dreamer issue that seems to have escaped everyone, or that politicians are afraid to mention lest they be thought tax-grabbing socialists. All over the developed world, birth rates among long-established populations are falling, while those among immigrant populations remain high for at least a couple of generations. It is the Dreamers, and their descendants, who will prop up the tax base and provide a good deal of funding for the social programs that today’s elderly and disadvantaged cherish and, increasingly rely upon. Cynical? Bloody oath, but since when was politics not so?

And, as I feared, religion influenced the proceedings, though admittedly not to the extent it did at the Republican bun-fight. When is someone going to have the guts to stand up and say that religious belief is a private and personal thing and has no relevance or place in politics? In summary I found both events very entertaining, though puzzling, and worth watching – even if only for the wide variety of costumes on display. It was sort of like an evangelical revivalist meeting though slightly more entertaining and slightly more believable.

So what do I think? America really needs Senator Bernie Sanders to change his mind and run for the office of President and is in dire need of another Walt Kelly.

Image: from the official Democratic Convention 2012 website (fair use).
Frank Povah

Frank Povah

Arriving in the USA in late 2008, Frank Povah moved to Stamping Ground, Kentucky in mid 2009. Passionate about the written and spoken word and constantly bewildered by non-verbs and neo-nouns, Frank trained as a typesetter - though he has worked at many things - and later branched out into proofreading, writing and editing. For many years he has been copy editor, consultant and columnist with a prestigious Australian quarterly along with running his own editorial and typesetting business. His other interests are many and include traditional music, especially that of the south, folklore, natural history, and pigeons.

  1. Tom Ferguson

    Frank; would be great if you were to write an update on what’s happening in Australia… things seem to change so quickly there… i had heard Midnight Oil’s front man was minister for the environment or some such but then i seem to hear they now have a conservative govt.???/

  2. Frank Povah

    Tm – sorry about the delay. I will indeed do some quick brushing up and give my side of the Australian scene.

  3. Frank, I’m assuming your question about leaving religious fervor out of the public realm is rhetorical. We, as a species, would truly turn a corner if that could be. I’m also assuming that you are not fully – if at all – a devout fan of American football; although you may well be that of international football (soccer). I mention this as a point of how incredibly insistant “we” are of shoving “our” religious beliefs down the throats of others and holding them up on public display. I refer, of course, to the Tebow Effect.

    1. Frank Povah

      No, I’m afraid not. It needs to happen. Julia Gillard, Australia’s Prime Minister, when elevated to the position, was asked by a journo what were her religious leanings. She replied that she was christened a Baptist but doesn’t believe in any god and that in any case, religion should have nothing to do with a discussion about politics.

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